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Sunday, December 27, 2015

I hope you and yours had a great Christmas on Friday, if you celebrate such things.

Ours was good, from the moment the boys woke up and remembered what day it was (6:27 a.m., which isn’t bad as such things go) to the moment they staggered back into the house, exhausted, after a long day of festivities and then passed out nearly immediately. There were family members we don’t see very much, an introduction to a new (canine) cousin, lots of good food and far too many presents.

And the certain knowledge, even in the middle of all the fun, that there was someone missing.
There was no attempt at a facsimile of a traditional Polish Christmas Eve meal. (What can I say? My family is mostly Scottish. But I did my best in previous years.) No Christmas tree at the house down the street. No outfits for the boys that might fit them in two or three years. (That was a family joke at this point.) No presents wrapped quite as meticulously as only my mother-in-law could wrap them.
We still have the Christmas present my mother-in-law brought Sam, the earliest of what would have been a plethora of gifts for the beloved grandkids, and it’s doubly precious now. In a few days, we’ll give him that art set and explain what it represents. There are worse ways to deal with grief than art, I figure.

The edges are only starting to get rubbed off the pain. Jimmy has stopped asking to see her; I think he understands, a little, now. Sam is fiercely protective of his father’s feelings, and will only talk about his own when Dad is not around. He admitted as much while taking a stroll on Christmas Day with my mom.

“But at least I still have you,” he told her.

She cried. I cried.

But even through the tears, there was that knowledge this Christmas that you appreciate the time you have, while you have it. The boys got a painful object lesson in that this year. It’s a lesson that we all have to learn at some point in our lives.

So hug your loved ones closer this holiday season. You never know when you’re getting one last Christmas.

Make them all count.


For years, we’ve attended the Kids Zone of the New Year’s Eve festivities in the City of Tonawanda, part of the Twin Cities’ ball drop event. This year, we regretfully decided that the boys had finally outgrown the event, which was run by amazing volunteers at the Salem Church.

So it’s time for something new. This year, we’re going to try out First Night Buffalo.

The event runs from 5 to 10 p.m. Dec. 31 at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. There are indoor rides, music, characters, shows, even a laser maze. For more information, visit Presale tickets are $10.

But we’ll never forget the wonderful people at Salem Church. Thanks for everything.

+Jill Keppeler and the Keppeler family wish you all a happy and healthy 2016. Follow her on Twitter @JillKeppeler or email her at

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