Dear Susieann,

We missed you five minutes after we woke up long enough to realize you were really gone. Thank you for being a baby person and for showing me the joy of sisters-close-in-age. Thank you for being the other “photo freak” in the family. Thank you for the unconditional love you give so freely and the witness your life provides. I’m so very blessed to have you in my life. Thank you for giving us a gift by making a trip to Ohio the only thing you wanted for Christmas. We love you!

Dear Ree,

We can’t wait to hear about what you think of the book (guess what – I got a copy for Christmas too!). After spending these precious hours with you and marveling at what a young lady you are, I really can’t wait to have you all to myself for a few hours. Maybe we can start writing each other…what do you think? Ree, you are such a young lady now, and as I sat beside you at midnight Mass, I couldn’t help but remember when you first called me “Aunt Sarah” (you were the first one to do that, you know), and how that made me feel special and loved in a way I couldn’t have anticipated. You’ve continued to do that in the last eight years, and the joy in knowing you only grows as I know you longer. We love you!

Dear Junie B.,

We made a train in the playroom today, and I thought of you, because it seemed like the kind of thing you could have made more exciting. When I nursed the baby, I missed your questions and ceaseless observations. I remember when you were the baby, no bigger than Mamie is. Every time you fell asleep, I thought of how Uncle Charming held you then – and when he put you in the car at Grammy’s house, sound asleep, after midnight Mass, I thought of how much you’re just like you’ve always been. Spending this special time with you while you visited made me appreciate you more for the person you are. We love you!

Dear AmazingAl,

We love you too, but don’t tell anyone I said that. Our reputation as the “tough in-laws” will be completely ruined and then we’ll have naught but sappy residue left. I’m glad you were able to come this time, and I’m glad too that we had some time to talk (even if it did feel like we were on the threshold of hell with the heat of the fire!). Those novenas are for God’s will, by the way. Don’t feel like we’re ganging up on you at all, because we’re not. It’s our way of saying we like you enough to have you down the street. 🙂 Thanks for giving Susieann the gift that made our Christmas full of the best kind of warmth and smiling.