Well, Christmas Day came and went.

The reality of Nick’s absence rang in my ears constantly-sometimes like a clanging cymbal other times like the light ringing of a gentle chime.

This is a photo we took in my Aunt Earlene’s back yard on Christmas Day.

Our first “family picture” without Nick.

I’m not sure that I’ll ever get use to looking at a picture of our family without Nick’s radiant smile.

I can’t help but think that somewhere among the branches he is grinning and sharing this moment with us. I know he was in my heart.

So, what do you do on Christmas Day when you are grieving?

You embrace the day.

What else can you do when you have the hope the Heaven?

If Nick could have made the choice of spending the day with us climbing an old tree to say “cheese” or of spending the day in the presence of the One for whom we celebrate the holiday, Our Lord and Savior, I just have to believe he would have chosen praising Jesus.

So, as Nick’s mom, I have to honor my son by choosing to spend God’s Son’s birthday praising Him as well! Nick would have wanted nothing less from me.

I have much to share about our wild trip across America.

I’ll save stories for another time.

Just had to write in the wee hours of this morning to say, “We’re home. We made it through Christmas. We are thankful. We love you all so much!”

God bless you as you walk into 2009.

May it be a year of many blessings, laughs, and love!