My sister and I have always been close, but sometimes, circumstance and miles between us prevent us from seeing each other as much as we'd like to. As a result, it's been over 5 years since I was home, I didn't realize just how much I missed everyone until I arrived in Plano, Texas on Christmas Eve-Eve.

Now, I have some very definite ideas about Christmas and how it should be celebrated and I even wrote an article about my rules spelling out exactly how Christmas should be spent. To refresh your memory, here are a few of the highlights:

1. Real Tree

2. Wrapped gifts, not gift bags

3. All presents are opened Christmas Morning

4. Christmas dinner should be some kind of fowl with all the trimmings

I consider all those rules quite reasonable, but I arrived at my sisters house to find a fake tree surrounded by gift bags, all presents were opened on Christmas Eve and we had seafood gumbo (in Dallas?) for Christmas dinner. Not one of iron clad "rules" were followed.

On the other hand, the house looked and felt like Christmas inside and out. Even though it was far too warm for a fire, the whole house felt "fireplace" cozy. Guest began to appear and with each new smiling face, the spirit in the house grew. While the crowd was mostly family, there were a few people that were not family that I would gladly claim as kin.

The house was filled with love and happiness and I was reminded of the great scene in "The Grinch" when the narrator points out that, even without the "roast beast" and all the decorations and gifts,that Christmas came anyway.

While all the trappings of Christmas were present, they were not needed in that house on Christmas Eve, We had a house filled with love and friendship and everyone was of one accord when it came to really knowing the "reason for the season."

Thanks to my sister and my wonderful family, I had the greatest Christmas of my adult life. I got back to family and back to my roots. I had lost track of my family roots over the years and it was so comforting to have those feelings renewed.

My family reminded me that we could have had that celebration in a tent with no gifts and no decorations and still, we would have had a wonderful Christmas. How can you beat a family like that? My life is truly blessed.