The fire is popping and crackling next to me. The rest of my family is asleep, save for my brother, who is engrossed in his laptop and paying no attention to the world around him. The lights on the tree are shining and the light is illuminating the presents under the tree.
I move out of my chair and sit in front of the fire. It’s been burning since last night, and though it was starting to die down when I came downstairs, a couple pokes in the right spots were enough to get it blazing up again.
Soon the rest of my family will rise. There will be eating. There will be drinking. There will be laughing and joking and a great lightness of spirit. We will open presents and rejoice in our love for each other. Then we will visit our cousins and there will be laughing and joking and merriment anew.
I continue staring into the fire. I have a busy day before me, but at this moment I am content to gaze into the flames. The fire is roaring now, licking at the magnificent yule log that we threw in there the night before. The warmth of the fire on my face touches me more deeply than the combined impact of all that I have experienced this year. It speaks to me of all that has happened and all that is yet to come. It speaks to me of the timeless essence of the human spirit, always burning, always bright, unstoppable and indefatigable, even when all seems meaningless. It speaks to me of joy. It speaks to me of hope.
The sun is starting to creep over the horizon now and the first rays of light are seeping in through the window. Soon the rest of my family will rise. Soon.
For the first time this year, I feel at peace.