family gatherings

I love putting up the Christmas Tree. OK, correction, I love sitting down to enjoy my Christmas tree after the chaos of herding the family to a farm to cut it down, and then the apparent torture my teens undergo to help me decorate it. After all the noise and activity clears away, when the house is quiet and it’s dark outside, I love to sit with the fragrant addition to my living room – with its decorations and twinkling lights – and take a deep breath and appreciate the moment.

In these fleeting moments, I reminisce. I remember opening gifts on Christmas morning as a child – that first Barbie Dreamhouse, those roller skates with the pink pom poms. I think of when my own kids were young and Christmas morning was the best day of the year – a flurry of motion and screams and excitement, over too fast after months of work to make it happen. My tree is full of memories that conjure warm and fuzzy feelings. My heart feels full in these moments. I’m reminded of how fortunate I am, in so many ways.

Every year I order a new ornament for each of my kids that has a few photos on it from that year. The thinking is that when they move out, they will have a whole bin of personalized ornaments for their first trees. It recently occurred to me that their significant others might be less than thrilled to have a Christmas tree full of ornaments that document a timeline of someone else’s childhood, but it’s too late to back out now, they’ve got a solid 20 ornaments to work with. In the meantime, those ornaments live on my tree, and right there in my living room with all its twinkly lights and pine needles, is the story of our family.

Whether it’s staring at a twinkling Christmas tree, or pausing for a moment at the holiday dinner table, or when lighting the Menorah or baking cookies with family – I hope you are able to find those quiet moments that make your heart swell, that have you equal parts smiling and teary-eyed. Allow yourself to linger in those moments, to feel all that comes with it, before the noise starts up again and you are whisked back to the busyness of the season.

Each year pulling this holiday issue together makes me feel a little like those quiet moments with my tree. Putting together an issue of Carroll Magazine can be chaotic, and when the writers have done their work and the editors and designers put it all together – we have this beautiful publication that tells the stories of people dedicated to their community, committed to making lives better for those around them. I take a minute to appreciate that I get to be a part of it.

This holiday season, I hope you find those fleeting moments in which your heart feels full and you are overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation for the good in life. Stay safe and best wishes for a happy holiday season.

Kym Byrnes

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