This was Emily’s favorite time of year. I suppose she wasn’t unique in that, but her enthusiasm for the holidays was unlike anything I had ever seen. Typically, there are two kinds of joy on display at Christmas: the joy of children, lost in the wonder and excitement created for them, and the joy of parents, watching their children relish in the festivities. Emily managed to exist right in between those two joys, thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to give to others, while magically managing to hang on to her own childlike wonder.
As we all get older, Christmas evolves to mean different things and there are elements we learn to appreciate and parts that we miss. At least, that has been true for me. But for the rest of my life, part of this season will always be the light that sparkled in Emily’s beautiful blue eyes, barely peeking through because her smile was so big.
Contributing to what made this a special time, on Christmas Eve 2011, I asked Emily to marry me and let me be her husband. She said yes, and in that moment I experienced the excitement of every Christmas before. I have never gotten a better gift.
This time was also special because of Emily’s birthday. She was born on December 30, which meant she was part of that unfortunate fraternity of folks whose special day was overshadowed by some other guy’s. Growing up, organizing parties was difficult because all of her friends were celebrating Christmas with their families, either out of town or with family visiting. It became my personal mission to make sure that her birthday was not an after thought, but the centerpiece of this time of the year. That will continue this year. Friends and family will gather. We will laugh. We will eat queso (Emily’s absolute favorite). And even if for only a few fleeting moments, we will find a bit of that joy.
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup o’ queso yet
For auld lang syne.