You'd think I'd be used to it by now

But it’s still kind of neat to see my name, picture and words on a printed page of the newspaper.

Below is my second My Turn, as published today (Monday, Jan. 12, 2009):

People, not presents, make the holidays worth it

The middle of January isn’t too late to still be talking about the holidays, is it?

I mean, I still have Christmas gifts I haven’t delivered yet. And my Christmas tree is still up and fully decorated, right there in my living room. The cat loves it.

Maybe it’s a little obvious to say, but the holidays are a really special time of year for me. (But, then again, there are some people who just never get into the Christmas spirit, so maybe it’s not so redundant.)

For as long as I can remember, Christmas has started in my family in the middle of December. All my cousins (there are quite a few of us), aunts and uncles would gather at my grandma’s house for a pre-Christmas Christmas celebration. When we were really little, Santa would come visit and bring presents for all of us. And how awesome is that,  Santa making a special trip to Grandma’s house weeks before Christmas?

As we got older, the Santa visits were replaced by a particularly hilarious uncle dressing up as Santa and teasing us all before we could actually get our gifts. Actually, that happened when we were younger, too. But you know how gullible little kids are.

Oh! That’s not to say Santa’s not real. He totally is. He just doesn’t usually make house calls in the middle of December. He’s a busy guy. Right? Right.

I digress. These pre-Christmas Christmas celebrations at Grandma’s were a staple in my family. Sure, you may skip the reunion and slack on visiting family members throughout the year, but Grandma’s Christmas was the one gathering you didn’t miss. We’d all gripe and complain about it for about a month before the event, but we were all there in the end. It was a ritual.

This year, there was no Christmas at Grandma’s.

At first it was just delayed for a week or two due to snow and ice and bad roads and all around horrible weather. Then it was just canceled. No rescheduling, nothing.

And it sucked. (Can I say that in a My Turn, “sucked?” Is that allowed? You just did. — editor) Thanks a lot, winter. You can go away now.

I didn’t even get to see any of my immediate family members until New Year’s Eve, when my boyfriend and I finally showed up at around 9 p.m. (after I got off work — thanks, newspaper business — and packed the dogs into the car and we drove the couple hours it takes to get to my hometown). And I didn’t see either of my siblings … or my awesome in-laws … or my 1-year-old twin nieces … until Jan. 3.

Sure, that makes for quite a few Christmas gift opening sessions, but really … I’d much rather have everybody together on Christmas Eve, eating entirely too much food and waking up hours before humans are supposed to wake up to open gifts.

Again, I digress. Where was I? Right, no Christmas at Grandma’s this year. And it sucked.

I didn’t know what to do with myself. Not hearing my brother make fun of all his little cousins or my grandma begging my uncle to dress up as Santa really got to me. It just wasn’t normal — my body has become accustomed to Grandma’s Christmas on a yearly basis and I’m pretty sure I went through withdrawals. And it would have been really cool to see my nieces participate in the family tradition.

I’m OK now, but, as you can tell, I’m still talking about it. So maybe I’m not over it. I can’t help it if Christmas is more about family and friends for me than presents.

I guess there’s always next year. Did you hear that, Grandma? Next year. I’ll be there.

Kaci … is the … paginator. Can you tell how much she loves snow and driving in it? It’s at the opposite end of the spectrum from her deep love for her family.

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