After four and a half days out of the office, I am at last starting to relax a little bit. Not that you can tell judging by my pre-dawn waking times, a habit that takes me much longer than four mornings to overcome. But at least I can use that solitary morning time for reading a good book or catching up on the news, instead of wolfing my coffee and jumping in the shower before the sky has even lost its pink.

So it’s 8:30 AM on Christmas Eve. Thus far, I have had breakfast and two cups of coffee, written in my journal, and read a few chapters of my book. (Currently, that’s The Golden Compass, and yes, I admit that I am reading it for the first time only after seeing the movie a few weeks ago.) The house is cold but my blanket is warm, and the air is clear, bright, and full of wintry promise. Already, this is a good Christmas.

Once again, the holiday will comprise both pain and joy. It will be the first without my grandmother’s pumpkin pie to sustain us during our orgy of presents tomorrow morning, but it will also be the first with my husband at my side. And it will be one more Christmas spent with my father, which is a surprising and precious gift.

For the next forty-eight hours, I will try my best to shut out everything else and just concentrate on these few facts. Yes, there is work to be done, laundry to be folded, and big questions in my life remaining to be answered. But for now those will all be silenced, and for a short period of time, peace will reign in my little corner of the world.

I can only hope that the same holds true for those who have much bigger concerns in their lives as well. Merry Christmas.