The holidays, which in November seem to stretch for miles into the future, are over. I hope you all made it through in one piece. Mine were filled with family time — something I haven’t had much of lately.
My grandparents, who live on a street named after a citrus fruit in Tavares, Fla., drove up to spend the week of Christmas with me. Their stay filled my usually quiet apartment with a flurry of activity that I already miss. My 4-foot-tall Christmas tree’s bounty grew from five presents to 25, and my thermostat quickly rose from 68 to 72 due to their thin Florida blood. Nights were filled with long chats, Apples to Apples and Scrabble tournaments, home improvement projects, good food, and grandmotherly advice.
While here, my grandparents gained a grandson to spoil. My neighbor Kaleb — The Robesonian’s sports editor, as you may know him — couldn’t go to his Michigan home for the holidays, so we made sure he had a family Christmas here. They showered him with gifts — showing off an innate knowledge of exactly what he wanted, even though they just met him. Maybe they had an insider’s help.
Even my cat Toby had presents under the tree, and a tiny stocking hung with the others. Santa obviously was unaware of Toby’s diet when he gifted him 12 cans of Fancy Feast. At least the annoying bird toy that tweets when batted across the floor might burn some extra calories.
Time spent with my grandmother always reminds me of how shockingly alike we are. It’s as if all her genes skipped a generation. My obsessive compulsive neatness, my ability to chat with anybody, my love of making someone happy, and my excitement about life all mirror her. Not to mention my slight ditziness. If she’s not going, she’s sleeping, and that’s how I often feel. Meeting her is like meeting me in 40 years.
After a week of spoiling their “favorite granddaughter” — their words, not mine — my grandma and grandpa drove me to the Fayetteville airport, and it was on to colder pastures for me.
I spent New Year’s back home in Wisconsin with old friends and my mom, stepfather and little brother. I opened late gifts, saw my family’s new house — located a whole two blocks from their old one — and hung out with my 11-year-old brother, who now stands as tall as my shoulders. What a difference a year makes.
Joseph and I played video games and card games, went shopping for snow pants and boots and even worked on some long division. My stepdad Dennis and I watched the Packers dominate the Detroit Lions and the Badgers’ unfortunate loss in the Rose Bowl, and my mom and I caught up.
On the last day of the year, my best friend Lesley and I ran a 10K race in Milwaukee. Having not trained at all, we really just did it to say we had. The run gave us plenty of time to catch up and an excuse to binge eat her mom’s leftover Christmas cookies. You know you’ve found a true friend when the months it has been since you last saw each other disappear, and you can fall right back into being “besties.”
That night we rang in the New Year in a flood of music and dancing. I suppose we are getting older, as we returned home just before 1 a.m. — happy to have made it to 2012, but ready to go to sleep.
My New Year’s resolution this year is to keep in better touch with friends and family, something that gets more difficult when miles and busy schedules get in the way.
My mom’s big smile when I arrived to the airport in Milwaukee proved that presence really can be the greatest present of all.
— Reach features editor Amanda Munger at 910-272-6144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.