My neighbor sent a text my way the other night saying she would drive to Morning Muscles, and when I thumbed back to her that we didn't have exercise class until January 3rd, I could hear her groan through the trees, the driveway snow berms, and the walls of our homes. We've been eating a lot over here, too. My favorite holiday treat is spiced stewed fruit with heavy cream. It's mostly prunes. Go ahead laugh. Everyone does. I should called them dried Italian plums instead. After what seems like a month of very cold, clear days, we woke to the rumble and rattle of the chained up snow plow truck this morning (well, that and two bouncy golden retrievers running up and down the stairs between my daughter's room and ours-- Annie the granddog is here with Eliza from Juneau) and the thermometer on the other side of the kitchen window from my coffee pot read 21. Downright balmy. How were our holidays? Ongoing-- but in a nutshell, Chritsmas Day was big and noisy-- and Christmas Eve was smaller and quiet and friendly ( drinks with old friends in Fort Seward) then the traditional smoked salmon fettuccine family dinner and church, which began with caroling at ten and ended at just about midnight. There were about fifteen of us there, and the only family with young children snuck out at what my husband calls half-time, before the communion, cutting the congregation by a third. There was one old shepherd dog, too, asleep on blanket at her masters' feet. When our kids were small I used to make little nests like that on the floor for them to nap on during the service, too. I figured they'd absorb the Christmas message through osmosis. There are times when I'm a tad nostalgic for those days-- but mostly I'm glad to finally get some sleep this time of year, and happy and relieved that we managed to raise five responsible, caring adults. It is so much fun to see them embarking on similar, but unique paths, in their own lives with their own children, and to have them live so near us so that we can be close to our grandchildren. On Chritsmas Eve, I overheard one of our daughters asking my husband what he got me for Christmas. "Your mother already has everything she ever wanted," he said. "Five beautiful children." He's right, although I never asked for five. I just wanted a big, close family. Thank God I got this one.