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Samantha spent the last hour or so getting stuff ready to go under the tree, with most of it as big a surprise to me as it will be for the tiny recipient in the morning. We don’t have to be too sneaky about hiding toys away from somebody who can’t reach the closet door handle yet.

The year was frustrating, and the seasonal gratitude for family, friends and good fortune has been hard to muster. I sorely miss seeing friends without a computer screen involved. I would happily settle for sharing drinks with people that I don’t even like very much at this point. Entertaining a toddler is difficult under normal circumstances, made worse when you have to nix anything that involves being indoors with crowds.

We have been fortunate. Aside from a couple of cautionary trips to the children’s hospital, everyone has stayed relatively healthy. Considering what a lot of folks have dealt with, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Same goes for the various natural disasters – floods and tornado outbreaks – that spared us entirely. Still gainfully employed. We are incredibly blessed.

There will be a little voice squealing “Whoa!” in a few hours. If I could bottle up that kind of unbridled joy for even a moment, all my many frustrations would fade away. I believe most of us are counting our blessings and hoping for better and brighter days ahead. We’re going to get there.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!