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I woke up this day after Christmas, stepping around empty boxes and delaying the clean up of the remaining dirty dishes from last night’s family dinner, and I feel remarkable satisfaction and gratitude. It’s easy to let some post-holiday blues settle in right about now. All the excess. All the stuff and the hurrying and the unmet expectations. And for what purpose, right?

And, yes, we spend too much money on things. And we eat food that doesn’t make us stronger. And we fill our calendar with gatherings and then just go through the motions much of the time, rarely making meaningful connections with our family and friends.

But I’m not feeling any sense of humbug now. I’m appreciating how good I’ve got it. Lately, when friends check in and ask about my family, I tell them we are in a sweet spot. Our girls are 10 and 7. They are somewhat self-sufficient. They can occupy themselves with books and games, and they still love to play with each other and imagine. We can carry on real conversations with them and talk about important things. My 10-year-old even wrapped my wife’s presents for me this week. But they’re still kids, wide-eyed and innocent and smitten by stories and the possibility that magic just might be real.

And they, for now, think I’m pretty cool. In just a few years, however, they will think they are cool and realize I am not. They will soon enough, a little more than a decade from now, have their own homes and their own young adult lives. We will be a part of their world but no longer the center of it.

So, our family is in such a sweet spot right now. Our kids are fully kids, with all the delight and occasional annoyance that comes with that. Tickle fights are still a thing. And cuddling and story times. We are living the dream and need to embrace this time and love the sweetness of the present moment.

*Inspired by Gruber’s holiday reminiscence.