It's been a difficult, sad and life-altering year. For the past four months my life has been consumed with settling my husband's estate, taking care of my developmentally delayed son and just getting through each day. The arrival of November has been urging me to start planning for the holidays. For the first time ever, my youngest sister just told me that her children have to work on Thanksgiving so her family won't be able to come. My daughter's boyfriend has been on an out of town job for two months and is expected back by Thanksgiving so, naturally and understandably, she wants to be with him. My brother and his wife moved out of state a few months ago so this will be their first time to miss the family holiday get-togethers. My 90 year old mother's mobility is an issue so she and my sister who lives with her will be staying at home. That leaves just me and my son so I've decided to skip Thanksgiving and look forward to everyone being here for Christmas. It didn't bother me at first and was even a bit of a relief since not having to plan a Thanksgiving get-together would give me more time to get into the holiday spirit. Then I allowed a brief negative thought to enter in and wondered if this is the beginning of holidays to come and it'll just be my son and me, not just for Thanksgiving but for Christmas as well. We're a close knit family and family gatherings are important to us so I don't really see that happening. Somehow I've wandered far off course with this post and haven't said a word about what I'd intended to talk about - our Christmas tree. Last week I got a sudden urge to make this an especially grand Christmas for everyone so I bought a 7 1/2 foot tree, a new star topper, some new ornaments and a custom made tree skirt. I've done almost all of my Christmas shopping and I set up the tree a few days ago. Now I can't wait for Christmas to get here. After the year we've had, it's time to end it with something positive, pretty and fun. If it's OK, I'd post a photo of the tree but I've not figured out how to do that on here yet.