The cookies used to be stowed in colorful tins behind our huge tree; this year they will be in plain sight with just a smaller tree on a table.
We decided to celebrate Christmas Eve on the night of Dec. 23 this year.
On Dec. 22 we prepared turkey breast and sliced the ham. Today, the trays of sliced ham and turkey, cheeses, sliced bread, a double recipe of puff pastries with pepperoni, a large slow-cooker filled with "ranch beans," a crabmeat dip, one or two cheese balls, a selection of crackers and whatever else the family decides to make for the festivities, perhaps even the famous cheesecake.
They will arrive around 6 p.m. There will be opening of gifts and some tears for Bob, who dearly loved this get-together. Last year, he was in a nursing home -- his last Christmas -- and I can still hear him saying, "How can it be Christmas without me?"
When smiling and happy children and grandchildren start arriving, it does become very festive and happy. It can't be the same, but life and Christmas go on.
Seeing the happy, twinkling eyes of the smiling young ones always make it worth all the hard work that goes in to it.
Jean Schumacher, of Charleston, may be emailed at jandbs...@hotmail.com.