Much like the kids in A Christmas Story, the thought of writing - - a "theme", upon my return from Montana, was daunting. The honest truth is, we didn't do a whole lot.

Like South Dakota, Montana has also lost a lot of people (950 to date), to the COVID-19 pandemic. Granted, that is not as many as South Dakota (nearing 1500 to date), but Montana had a complete lockdown early in the pandemic.

My younger sister who works for the state of Montana has been toiling away in her spare bedroom for so long, I think it's difficult for her to remember what working in an office was like. She misses her co-workers, in-person conversations, and- -her plants, most of which have passed away, due to neglect and/or lack of water.

In fact, when I arrived at her house, I found myself sharing space with her pseudo "work pod". I was just grateful that she had taken time off from both her full-time and part-time jobs, as she is performing both of them remotely. If she had been working one, or both of them, I would have had a lot less time to sleep in and plenty of alone time.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were spent at my older sister and brother-in-law's home down the street in Helena. My nephew Anthony from Colorado being able to spend the holidays with us was the best gift I could imagine.

Anthony, (Bubbi, to those of us in the family) is hilarious! It is usually unintentional, as the kid has never really been able to tell a joke, try as he might. But he does tell wacky stories, has very unique perceptions of life, a quirky, sarcastic nature that belies his kind, loving heart, and extremely high intelligence.

We have been kindred spirits from the moment he could walk and talk (sometimes to his parent's chagrin) and I absolutely adore him. He makes me laugh. And in a year with very limited opportunities to laugh until you cried, I appreciated every guffaw!

We had our traditional Italian "Feast of the Seven Fishes" on Christmas Eve and the customary rib roast extravaganza on Christmas Day. Food has always played a very important part in our celebrations. Which is no surprise to anyone who knows us.

That being said, the multitude of cookies that are usually produced by my two siblings, (both, very accomplished bakers) got lost in a whirlwind of work obligations, lack of time, ambition, and truthfully, Christmas spirit. But, oh, the fudge! There was plenty of my favorite Espresso fudge, whipped up by my sister Carolyn!

I marveled at my brother-in-law Jon's "Crystalline Entity" inspired upside-down Christmas tree decked with all of his Star Trek ornaments. Our hearts were broken by the likelihood that this would be their German Shepherd Sadie's last Christmas.

We watched holiday movies, during which any number of us would doze off, we snacked on glorious Chex Party mix that my Carmie has perfected into a garlic lover's dream.

We laughed, we cried, we fought. Feelings and pride were hurt, old wounds were re-opened, old territory re-traveled, some made apologies, some never do. Eventually, we move on- -because it's Christmas- -because it's family.

So, that's what I did. Very little and a whole lot.

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