A few days before Christmas of 2008, I became very sad. I felt lost here in Arizona for the first time. Lost without my family. This was the first Christmas in five or six years that we have not spent with Katie and Tom and their kids, and I have not felt the loss of them so acutely since the time they moved. Last Christmas we went to Katie and Tom's (four months after they moved). It saved me from feeling the shock of their absence. This year, there was no way around the hurt, so we just had to go right through the middle of it instead. At least, that's what I thought. For our kids' sake, I tried to pull myself out of the blues. We invited three families over for Christmas, and two days before Christmas we made the usual plates of goodies to take to others. My cookies (my prized chocolate chip cookies) that have turned out delicious everywhere except Arizona once again bombed (may that recipe rest in peace; I will not let it disappoint me again!), but the snickerdoodles were good and saved the plates. We started taking them to the people we visit and home teach and also to our dearest friends here, and a funny thing happened... I felt the Christmas spirit! I learned then that the joy of Christmas really is in doing things for others, bringing a smile to someone else's face. On Christmas, our friends came over, and our house was bursting at the seams. We had about 18 people. The only downside was that Ryan and I destroyed the poor little pork loin roasts we got. They were supposed to be the framework for a glorious meal. Instead, they were dry, tough little things that begged for mercy by the time we got through with them. It was as if we had tried to destroy them on purpose, as there was nothing else we could have done wrong (we have since learned). Aside from the meat and some seating issues, it was a wonderful evening. We played games and sang Christmas songs with the accompaniment of Lisa's chime set. The Conrad's, Maloney's, Sanchez's, and Chapa's had a great time together. Life gives, and life takes away. I did feel one pang of sorrow on Christmas as I set the three (!) tables and remembered that the last time I did that was for Katie and her family on Christmas of 2006, but my hurt ebbed as I answered the door and founds friends waiting. I hope you all had a very merry Christmas, and I wish you all a very happy new year!