Last year, on December 25th 2012, I was gathered in my grandparents living room. It was absolute chaos as all the young ones shredded wrapping paper to unveil the new toys that looked the exact same as the ones from the previous year. It was always a fun and warming atmosphere, but this year was different. Each one of us opened our presents and showed grandma- through Skype. Grandma had been in and out of the hospital for a couple of months, and we wanted her to feel like she was right there with us. This year, I find myself in the same exact position; everyone is smiling, throwing their heads back in laughter. We watch the babies stumble as they maneuver through the obstacle course of presents. Except things were not the same- because this year Grandma was watching us from Heaven. This year was a tough one for my family and I, struggling to deal with loss of someone so beautiful and significant in our lives as well as anything else life had thrown our way. But we made it through, all of us gathered again on this gorgeous winters day. With the new year will come new trials and tribulations, but what we can take from the year behind us is the strength of unconditional love in our family. My grandmother will never be forgotten, her soul rests in each and everyone one of us- little glimpses I see every time I hear one of her famous phrases or jokes said by a member of the family. I wasn't sad today because I got the most beautiful gift of all: knowing my grandmother. Letting her influence me in the most amazing way possible, and taking in everything she taught me and incorporating it into my own life. That is the gift that keeps on giving, that is the gift I will cherish forever. We can't change the past, but the past can change us- for the better. I hope everyone reading this had the most joyful holiday imaginable, spent with people you love most. I know I did.
Dedicated to my Grandmother, Mary Kroll, and my family.