UNITED STATES—Christmas has come and gone, and to be honest with everyone I am so happy. I felt a bit more stress this year than in previous years past. Not 100 percent sure why, but it did indeed transpire. I always tell people, as soon as Thanksgiving arrives, it seems Christmas sneaks right around the corner before New Year’s and the fall holidays are over and done. However, I realized something major in 2018 that I should have discovered a while back.

Family is very important this time of year, and for some this is a trying time with the realization that some loved ones are no longer with us. The holidays can be tough for that reason, and that is when it becomes important to check on your neighbors, friends and those family members who might be grappling with grief. I mean Christmas is the one day of year that I don’t have to work any of my jobs, and as a result, I actually try to sleep in until 9 or 10 am, but I got up an hour earlier than I expected.

It was a busy today between doing some final wrapping for gifts, loading gifts into the car and dropping gifts off, by the end of the day I was exhausted, burnt out and just ready for my bed to call my name. I mean I stopped by my uncle’s house for a feast and family gathering before heading to my brother’s house to drop off presents to my nieces. From there, I stopped by my mother’s house to have some dessert and hand out more presents, before visiting my other brother’s house before calling it a night at 9 p.m. Wink, I had to work the next day so I didn’t have plans to stay out any longer than what I was already out.

I just realized how warm and happy I felt to be in the company of family and friends who care about me, just as much as I care about them. We shared plenty of laughs, talked about how we reacted to a load of Christmas gifts as kids. I mean me, my brother and sister would ALWAYS be so excited we would get up at like 4 am in the morning. The craziness was a direct result of us always trying to find out what Santa or our parents got us for the festive holiday.

We ended up watching a “Home Alone” franchise and the laughs were just as great in 2018 as they were back in 1990. I mean watching my niece explode in belly laughs over the antics was absolute hilarity. Oh, there are things about “Home Alone” that makes it a Christmas classic in my opinion, and one that can be watched by the entire family over and over again. It never gets old people.

Nowadays, I get that same excitement watching my young nieces and nephews opening gifts. For me, I love the notion of putting a smile on someone’s face. I’m a gift-giver at heart and that matters more to me than any potential gift that I could ever receive. I spent a lot of money this holiday season on gifts and as a result a vast majority of 2019 will be focused on paying off debt and saving money. However, I would be completely lying if I told you I was not happy that the mayhem and the madness of Christmas is over. I love the holiday, but it can be chaos at times.