a lot of things changed when I moved in with Brian. for the first time, I was actually excited to come home, because he was usually there waiting for me. I didn't have to do everything around the house, sometimes he even did more housework than I did. he loves to cook and I hate to cook, so most nights he makes dinner. it gets better every day, even almost three years later.
another change was that since his family is extended and blended even more than mine, he attended more Christmas celebrations than I could ever imagine. we have at least five every year: one at his stepsister's house before they go to Indiana on Christmas Day, one at his brother's house before they go to Florida, one with my family on Christmas Eve, one at his other brother's house Christmas morning (complete with a big, yummy breakfast!) and then our own Christmas with the kids and his mom and sometimes my brothers. he used to hate having so many family celebrations but I think it's been better these last few years. they're always so much fun!
this year, though, we started the parties a little earlier than usual. our first Christmas for this year was today, at his stepsister's house. we celebrated early because his nephew is in the National Guard and won't be home for Christmas this year. he'll be in Georgia or Florida (I can't remember which) for nine months of training before he is shipped overseas to either Afghanistan or Iraq for eighteen months. it was a surprise for him and he was totally surprised! the ten-foot Christmas tree and all the decorations were up, everyone brought food and presents (I made Anisa's yummy white chocolate chip cranberry oatmeal cookies, which were a big hit!) the only thing missing were the caroles :)
it was a great party, but it was touched with the sadness of a family who knows that one of their own will be leaving for a while. and even though everyone was laughing and smiling and eating and joking, our thoughts were of Anthony and our hearts were a little heavy. if I believed in prayer, I would pray for him and his safety. I would pray for strength, for us and for him. we're still having Christmas there in December, but it won't be the same without Anthony.