I found this picture recently. I was five years old, standing in front of our Christmas tree at our home in Valley Forge. Every year, we went to the local tree farm and picked the best tree we could find. We spent the entire day decorating it with as much as we could — ornaments, lights, spray snow, tinsel, anything. My mother would finish it off with an angel that we had had for years. I loved wrapping gifts (still do!), and played a joke on one of my brothers one year. We had a bet to see who was the nicest and who would get the most presents from Santa. I spent the entire night wrapping anything I could find — bricks, oranges, kitchen utensils. We woke up the next morning, and his pile was huge! Needless to say, he was a bit disappointed.

I have always been so grateful that my childhood was full of extraordinary memories like these. Of waking my parents at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning and racing my brothers to the tree. The anticipation of seeing if Santa had eaten the chocolate chip cookies we left out for him. Sledding and hot cocoa, board games and giant family dinners with friends from the neighborhood were yearly events.

This year, I will be holding my boys, family and friends closer than ever and saying a prayer for those who can’t. I am wishing for a safe and happy holiday and 2013 for everyone. xxTory