This year the hustle and bustle of the holiday season really got to me. For the first time in as long as I can remember it began to distract and take away from the joy of Christmas. But I'm happy to report that the Brain house did indeed have a Merry Christmas in 2018. It was all about family.

It truly is amazing to see Christmas through the eyes of your kids. Ours range in age from 14 down to 8 so those experiences vary, if you catch my drift. Chase, being the oldest, does a great job of helping keep the magic alive for his younger sisters. Carly and Cayleigh LOVE Christmas. They write multiple letters to Santa. They leave letters and treats for their Elf on the Shelf. This truly is their favorite time of year.

Holly and I always want to make this time of year fun for the kids. Our parents did the same for us, no matter how much or little they had. While that does put some pressure on mom and dad, it's worth it to see their smiles and joy. This year I let the commercialization of the holiday get to me a bit. It wore on me as we got closer to the big day. But my stress was replaced by something else. The realization that I get to spend the holidays with family.

Holly and I are blessed to have our parents with us. Hers live in Marion, mine in nearby Anamosa. We spend Christmas Eve in Marion, and then travel to the farm on Christmas Day. I saw several social media posts that urged people to appreciate the fact that they have a family with them. And that got me appreciating them even more. I mentioned to Holly how lucky were are to be able to visit our parents and for our kids to know their grandparents. There will come a Christmas where they won't all be there. I pray that is years away.

I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas with their family, no matter how large or small.