Definitely a challenge to get the story part done, especially when I wasn't feeling inspired. However, I asked one of my daughters what memory(ies) she most wanted to be sure were documented somewhere and she replied "when we used to have Christmas with Grandpa B!" So here is my page: Journaling: (708 words) Just this past Sunday, our family put away all our interior Christmas decorations. It is traditional for us to wait until the weekend after Epiphany to do so. In my family, traditions for Christmas have always been strong, but they have not remained static. As circumstances in our lives changed, so did our ways of celebrating. This story documents the "used to be" traditions, those that we observed when my parents were alive. However, it is not a melancholy story. Rather it is meant to celebrate and document those memories. I come from a large family, four sisters and a brother, with ages that span almost 20 years. My memories growing up were of Christmas's full of people, Santa surprises on Christmas morning, and, as my sisters moved out and had families, of everyone returning to our house during the holiday week. My parents loved having everyone home for the holiday. There was always enough for everyone - good food, laughter, games, and alcohol. Gift giving, though, got harder, especially as we got older. One Christmas my siblings and I got together on an idea - we needed a theme that would result in gifts for the "house" and pay tribute to the warmth, hospitality, and welcoming nature of our parents. Thus the idea to name the house the "Triple B (BBB)" was born. From that Christmas on, we would always find a way to incorporate something from the BBB as gifts for all. By the time this became our tradition, I had moved to Minnesota for work. Every Christmas I would use my vacation to travel home and spend the holiday with my parents, my siblings, and their kids. We would definitely party during those days - as the invitation to the house was open to friends and family alike. There would be noise and laughter in the kitchen with the adults and in the basement with the kids. Being single, I looked forward to those times together so much and nothing would stop me from the yearly drive home. Eventually, I married and we had kids. Tom's family got Thanksgiving; mine got Christmas. And no matter the circumstances, we would make the drive to be with family - even through my pregnancies and with young children. And my siblings and their kids, and eventually the children of those kids would also be there. Some would come for a short time, some longer. There would always be a day and time though when most of us were there. And the fun, games, and party would carry on. I can still hear the laughter from around the kitchen table as we played one type of trivia or board game or another. Or when a practical joke would be played on an unsuspecting individual or the rules would be made up for the eventual game of beer pong as the night wore on. It was always understood between Tom and me that we would keep making that journey as long as my parents were alive. Even after my mom passed, my dad stayed in their house, welcoming one and all for the holidays. I think one of the main reasons he never changed his living circumstances was because he understood how much having that home base meant to us all. And how much it meant to me to be able to give our children the same experiences that I grew up with, and that my older sisters and their children experienced. Now that my dad has also passed, and the old home is no longer in our family, we still remember those days fondly. My daughters sometimes feel sad because they have so many fewer years with Grandma and Grandpa B at the BBB. We see my side of the family more rarely too, as we are dispersed through the US and have no "home base" any longer. We do make an effort to keep our traditions alive through stories and through family reunions. And we have moved to make our own traditions for Christmas here in our own home base. I have hope for the days when our house will ring with the laughter of generations, the warmth of welcome to family and friends, and the spirit of tradition coming full circle.