The holidays are coming upon us quite quickly, and as I sit here, staring outside at the snow (secretly VERY happy I don’t have to battle a snowblower or attempt shoveling – the benefits of NOT being a homeowner this year far outweighs the benefits for me, this year!!), I can’t help but think about how different I feel this year vs. last.

Now, I know I’ve talked about it a bit already, leading into Thanksgiving, but I think it’s worth mentioning again because of any holiday, Christmas is by far, the time of year when you most want to be happy and enjoy the company of family and friends. Last year, I tried to make the most of it, and I have some very poignant memories of last year that I will never, ever forget, so I can’t for a second say that the holidays last year weren’t memorable or happy in any way.

For example – probably one of the moments most permanently engrained in my memory and my heart, is spending some amazing moments with my Nonna (Italian for grandmother) on Christmas Eve (little did I know that the next day, she would have a heart attack (that would lead to her passing the following May). She had some powerful, yet simple words for me on being strong, feeling loved, and knowing that I would come out of this happier and even more loved by family and eventually, someone special. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, and I know Christmas Eve/Christmas will be hard without her around. But I am thankful that I was able to spend that time with her last year – if the “situation” had not occurred, I would have been with my in-laws, and I never would have shared the most poignant memory with my Nonna ever. So for that, I am glad.

Now that I’ve sufficiently made myself cry (mostly happy tears, but a few sad ones, for Nonna), I look forward to the weeks ahead, spent with family and friends. This weekend, I spent a wonderful day with my sisters and my mom for my mom’s birthday. It was an excellent day, and I really enjoyed spending all day with my sisters and mom, since we don’t get to do that too often alone. It felt like the official kick-off to the holidays!

Next up? “Crashing” my sister’s place on Christmas Eve for her annual celebration with her in-laws (who have “adopted” me as their daughter-in-law, too…they’re amazing!). Christmas with my grandparents in Maine (who just celebrated their 60th anniversary – they are one of a kind, and truly stand the test of time), and a New Year’s Eve party that is sure to be memorable, fun, and filled with food and wine.

What more could a girl ask for?! (sure, a kiss on New Year’s would be nice, but as boy #9 will be away, I’ll settle for kisses on the cheek from friends!!)