Sitting in front of the fire, contented beyond anything I've ever known, I face my third Christmas with Mark and family.
Christmas isn't a very big deal to me. As a matter of fact, I see it as more of a burden -- stimulating someone else's economy at the expense of my own. While I could forego it all together, I feel a reasonable responsibility to offer my kids at least a small taste of normalcy in their otherwise occasionally odd and always on a shoestring lives.
And as it happens, this holiday season is as comfortable as any I've ever known. No longer subsisting on student loans, I have my diploma, a job, and was even recently promoted to a permanent director position at the Y. I'm not stopping here by any means, but for a girl just six months out of school I'm feeling a mite proud of myself.
So I managed a few more gifties for the kids this year -- fewer of them from a thrift store than in years past. I didn't go overboard by any means, and under the tree are the usual socks, pants, toothbrushes and lip balm, but the extras that I haven't been able to offer make me feel pretty darn good about the path I'm travelling.