9:37 am, slowly rolling out of bed.

Anytime before then seems ludicrous these days,

even on Christmas.

I walk past Jack's room on the way to the stairs,

Still asleep. Of course.

I stumble my way down and it begins,

barking.

So. Much. Barking.

How many are there now?

That's right, FOUR.

Sounds like heaven but before coffee it can be a bit more like hell.

Dad's awake, making breakfast.

He's weirdly energetic somehow.

We exchange greetings, smiles, and hugs,

and I sit at the dining table,

clutching my coffee mug.

Pine needles are scattered on the ground under the tree.

Not knotted in or stuck to anything,

this house has tile floors.

Tile that's not tired of us yet.

Not tired of my sparkly red painted toe-nails,

or my brother's less-calloused feet,

that it only gets to see every few months when we're both back

home.

Not tired of the sixteen tiny paw prints of Summer, Ziggy, Arnold, and Harley,

or the new, rejuvenated soles of his

and her shoes.

But it's still stuck there,

under all of us,

for the time being.

10:04 am, everyone is awake.

Jack and I still have an hour before visiting mom,

so we sit.

And we eat.

And we drink.

And we talk.

And we laugh.

And we will have two Christmases instead of one,

and it will be okay.

And I am still joyous,

just in a different way.