The family Christmas get-together. Twenty-nine people, ranging in age from a few months to more than a few decades, gathered in a hunting lodge for the weekend.
Meals, with everyone contributing food and cooking and cleaning up. Story-telling around the tables. Board games. Card games. Puzzles.
Dedicated late-night putters together of puzzles. Equally dedicated early-morning deer hunters. Getting acquainted with the newest members of the family, both the "born to" and the "marrying into" variety.
And gifts. Gag gifts one evening, serious gifts the next. Many of them were hand-made, including a few (naming no names, but you know who you are) that were finished in the car on the way to the party.
As always, the most lasting gifts are the intangible ones: the stories, the laughter, and the memories.
Not to mention the germs. There's nothing like a few days of sneezing, sniffling, coughing, and aching to make you fully appreciate your family. It's truly a gift that keeps on giving.
A few of us are choosing to blame it on the baby, since he's too young to defend himself. But it could have been anyone. Thanks a lot, whoever it was. Merry Christmas to you, and all of your germs.
And wait till you see what's in your stocking next year.