December 23rd, 1998. I am only 6 years old, in a new house, new city, and new way of life. Within the year, we had moved from a house in a Big City, to a farm house in a small town. Instead of our yearly sled trip to the Big Hill down the road, I would be doing farm chores and living a much more solitary childhood. Solitary in the way that we were far from friends and really any civilization, but also in another lonely way. I watched a family fall apart; a father succumb to an addition, a mother with a broken heart. It was a confusing and isolated year. December 23rd, 2002. I am 10 years old, and still living in a cold, disheartened family. We were all bitter from the scars our father had burned us with. It affected my mother most, who has learned that the only way to survive is to stop trusting those closest to her. Then, news of my nephew comes; a pregnancy out of wedlock to parents who are just barely 16 and still in high school. Something I was “too young” to know about until nearly 6 months into the pregnancy. How could my brother betray our trust like this? December 23rd, 2003. I’m holding a beautiful baby boy in my arms. He looks so much like his father, my brother. Just barely a month old and his fingers are so tiny, his eyes so blue; so innocent and joyous. December 23rd, 2013. I sit here at my desk, now 21 years old, looking around at my beautiful and dynamic family. A family that has come through so much together. A family that includes boyfriends and girlfriends, adopted children and their parents, mothers, brothers, fathers, sisters, cousins, and even some who aren’t related by blood. We sit here, laughing, telling our stories of success and adventure. We’ve been through trials and tribulations, but always managed to make it through, side by side. This Christmas I know what’s most important to me- family. In all of it’s endless forms. I couldn’t be happier with where we all are in our lives, and I know that the Ghost of December 23rds Future will bring nothing but bliss.