We’re only two weeks into 2014, but I have to say it’s been a bumpy year so far. I’ve experienced lots of high and lows, excitement, disappointment, anxiety and joy.

It all started with our annual family Christmas party.

Nothing comes easy with my family. This has proved true for many years. Trying to keep track of and organize get-togethers for our more than two dozen children and grandchildren is exhausting and stressful. Everyone has their own schedules and agendas and there’s always someone “on the outs” with the rest of the family.

When siblings have very close relationships, breakdowns often occur. My children, especially, are never afraid to express their feelings to each other, which is good. However, they are not always quick to forgive and forget the things said in the midst of their “sharing.”

The family Christmas party was originally planned for the weekend before New Year’s. I was excited because all my children and most of my grandchildren were going to all be together for the first time in three years. Last fall, an ongoing family feud was finally laid to rest when my children decided to put aside their differences and do the unthinkable — forgive and forget — so we could be a whole family again.

It was a true miracle. But like I said, nothing can be easy.

Thanks to Spirit airline, my daughter T and her family ended up stranded in Colorado and unable to head home to Fort Worth as planned. I polled the rest of the family — my other children and my mom — via group text message and they all agreed we should postpone the party for a week so we could all be together.

Wonderful, yes? I thought so ... at the time. But several days later my daughter J’s boyfriend reminded me he was going to propose to her on New Year’s Day (unknown to J, of course) and then sweep her off to New Orleans for a celebration vacation. While I had polled J about postponing the party, I had failed to include her fiancé-to-be in the group text. Turns out, they were unable to attend the party.

Then my daughter S remembered she was required to work the first two Saturdays of January. She didn’t know if she’d be able to take off in time to make the two-hour drive down to Belton for the party.

At this point, I was ready to throw in the towel and just cancel the entire thing. The day-to-day roller-coaster of highs and lows, excitement and disappointment, got the best of me.

“Just forget it,” I told my husband in a fit of despair. “We’ll try again next year. I’m already sick of Christmas.”

But of course we didn’t cancel the party. Although we were tired of Christmas decorations by then, we left them up for the sake of the grandkids. The Christmas tree limbs were sagging, thanks to the cats using them as a jungle gym, and the lighted, musical figurines had about an inch of dust on them. But I don’t think anybody noticed. They were all too busy making memories — talking, laughing, playing with the kids and eating us out of house and home.

S ended up begging her way out of work so she and her family were able to attend. We missed J and her family, but they were with us in spirit. Everybody got along well and there were no arguments or fights, which is always the true measure of successful family parties.

On that day, surrounded by the love of my family, I forgot the bumpy road we had taken to get there. As the saying goes, you have to experience lows to truly appreciate the highs.

So on that note, I say: Bring it on, 2014.

KRISTI PARKER JOHNSON is metro editor of the Killeen Daily Herald. Contact her at kristij@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7648.

Contact Kristi Johnson at kristij@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7548

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