When I imagine Christmas, it’s full of people. People talking in small groups. People snacking. People watching TV. Lots and lots of people.

That’s odd because I come from a family of four (while my grandparents are still alive and I have myriad cousins and aunts and uncles, we don’t spend Christmas together.) and neither I nor my brother and his wife have kids. Now, we are three (with my sister-in-law with her parents), and it feels too quiet.

My dream Christmas would be like that movie Dan in Real Life (minus the drama over girlfriends). Lots of siblings and cousins. Music. Family games. In fact, this week a friend told me her family was having just such a holiday with scavenger hunts and cookie decorating contests. I admit it; I was jealous.

Of course, this will not be a normal Christmas, even by my family’s standards. We are sorely short of gifts since Mom was the major shopper in the house. She and I did a lot of cooking, and while I would be happy to do so for my dad and brother, it seems Dad feels better eating out tonight (Italian) and tomorrow (Japanese). And of course, Mom is not here. There’s this gaping whole that shimmers around any idea of this holiday, like the aura of Christmas is missing.

So no “Dan in Real Life” Christmas for me, but I am seeking thankfulness within myself this year. I have my dad and brother; I have three cats plus Mom’s; I have friends coming for New Year’s, and well, I don’t have to cook for hours. Instead, I’m going to go watch a marathon of something like CSI: and sew. Oh, and tomorrow, we may have a White Christmas, and I will walk through the snow singing “White Christmas” and crying. Maybe then the glow of the holiday will shimmer through.

Christmas Tree