- Jan Risher

Whew. Just got home from spending Christmas with my extended family and old friends. What a blessing. What an event.

My baby brother and his wife had a baby last year, and as my mama said this morning, "A baby changes everything."

We were patty-caking, peek-a-booing and touch-downing for every one of his waking hours. It was as close to a classic Christmas as we could get — and I am forever grateful for it. Our family of 17 ate a Turducken from Maurice, cornbread dressing, butter-beans, green beans and a caramel cake. We played parlor games parlor games. My brother cut down a tree — not a Christmas tree, mind you — a 40-foot pine tree. Lightning struck it in my parents front yard, and nothing would do but my brother (in between storms, mind you) went out with a chain saw and cut the thing down. Then, we opened gifts.

Now that I'm home and sitting back in my own living room, I am full of peace and gratitude that I've spent as much time in another room living with people who tolerate me even if we don't see eye to eye.

Like every other family around the world, our family has quirks and quarrels and questions with one family member or the other, but we just keep on. That's what families do. They keep on.