Family connections make holidays meaningful.

'Tis the weekend before Christmas and I traveled 150 miles this weekend to visit family. Years ago my cousin preserved the holiday tradition of the family gathering on Christmas Eve. Origianally we all traveled to my grandfather's home for an evening meal, gifts and conversation. After his death the tradition was almost lost until my cousin reminded us of the importance of keeping in touch.

Over the years our family as grown and the more in-laws that are added means the less chance of all us getting together in the same year. It's only fair in a marriage to share the holidays and annual celebrations with both sides of the family. And sometimes distance and prior commitments can event prevent that from happening.

For me, my catering business always got in the way. This was the first year since my cousin has hosted the event that I got to participate. It was refreshing and, though the food was simple and the home was small, I was reminded of the importance of family. Despite our limited communication throughout the calendar year, Christmas brings us all together.

This weekend I reconnected with aunts, cousins and my grandmother who will be 90 years old next month. I saw my father's eyes in my aunt as we visited across the table from each other. She shared stories from the past and reminded me life is precious and those stories must be shared with the next generation. I lost my father two years ago to cancer. His other sister died this year as well. This year the holidays bring bitter sweet memories but renewed spirit as I treaure family moments.