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Today I grabbed a much needed cup of afternoon coffee and started sorting through the stack of mail.  Some bills…. lots of “junk” to throw away… and an envelope from my brother in Kansas.  THAT is a treat… for the time for both of us is often not there to keep in touch the way we’d both like to.

Inside was a cd labeled “Steve’s Christmas Favorites” and some pictures of my two nieces.  He’d sent me a text message not long ago asking if I’d like him to put together a cd of some of his favorites and I answered YES!  So as I drove back along dark country roads tonight, I listened.

And I remembered…. and I wept.

For each song said something about this man’s heart and reminded me of so many precious memories of Christmases past.

The Charlie Brown Christmas song, Burl Ives singing Holly Jolly Christmas, Alvin and the Chipmunks… all conjuring up memories of flannel pjs with feet… the two of us curled up in front of the television watching each of those classic Christmas programs for the umpteenth time until we were forced to go to bed.  And rememberances of those yearly Christmas programs where Holly Jolly was a given.  It wasn’t a Christmas program unless I listened to A run around the house for a month “practicing” at the top of her lungs…. not that she didn’t know it backwards and forwards!

O Holy Night… my Dad’s favorite Christmas song of all time and one of the most beautiful.  I will never forget the night he reached over and squeezed my hand as it was playing and said “This is my favorite you know.”  That was one of the first times I ever remember him sharing something like that with me.

Silent Night… Christmas Eve candlelight services… singing this incredibly beautiful song at the end of the service… Mom helping me light my candle before the lights went out and trying not to drip wax on my shoes in the process.  And the feeling of such joy and peace and serenity…THAT is what Christmas is all about.

John Lennon’s “So This Is Christmas”… reminding me of those teenage Christmases…struggling with the teenage rebel in me but at the same time, delighting in my family.

And the haunting Mannheim Steamroller versions of several familiar songs… always played at the Christmas fireworks over the river as our children grew up… the look of wonder on A’s face as she ooo’d and ahhh’d over every one.

Life has handed Steve and I decks of cards that have sometimes been tough to shuffle.  The everyday struggles in life combined with the distance in miles between us make it difficult to keep in touch the way we’d like to.  But the closeness is there and always will be.  For he is my brother and I love him more than he can possibly imagine.

There isn’t a lot of money in our lives to give each other gifts…but he gave me one of the most precious ones I could ever receive and one I’ll treasure…. he gave me the gift of HIM!

I love you Bro!

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