I don't mean to rant guys, but I have to share with someone. So Christmas has a track record of being absolutely crappy for me. And not because I'm whiny and complain about what I didn't get, because that's not what Christmas is about to me. Christmas has always had an awful memory with me because my family always fought, or they would gossip about this and that, and no one ever went through the holiday without trying to kill each other. And each and Every. Single. Year. I would wind up with a broken heart. I would be so sad to see my family so divided and hostile. It would rip me into mere shreds every year. Year after year after year I found myself unhappy, putting on a fake smile, and really feeling no enjoyment whatsoever on the holiday. This year was different. It was very different. This year, I have faced probably the hardest trials in my life. I lost mobility. Both of my legs were taken, and it was devastating. Perhaps even more devastating was the fact of how hard it was to learn how to use prosthetics. It still doesn't really seem real when I look down and all I see are two curved metal rods. My family still remained divided. Earlier in the year I found myself without a home, and I often found myself roaming from place to place for a night or two here or there before settling in where I am now and hoping it would last. So far it has. That was five months ago. It's been an emotional train wreck. Especially when I have been struggling my way through college, and when I say struggling, I don't mean 'Oh! I have term paper due tomorrow, I better get on that!'. I am talking, I don't know if I have the money to buy groceries to eat this evening...much less pay for desperately needed supplies I need for my classes, books, and tuition. There's been many days I have went without just to try to further my education and break the cycle my family had fallen into. I worked hard. Extremely hard. And I tried to escape all that here on Iwaku with you absolutely wonderful and incredibly supportive people. Just having the comfort of knowing there was someone else on the other end of a computer screen in case I needed them was an extreme comfort that ultimately held me together like glue. Then there was the sickness. My mom had to have a heart catherization and it nearly killed her because of a blockage knocked free. 90% on the main artery to her heart and they managed to do an emergency surgery and save her. Then my grandpa got ill. He had to have a finger removed. That's not losing your legs, but I have never wept so hard. I know what it's like to lose part of you, and let me tell you, it's one of the most difficult things, if not the most difficult, I have ever faced in my life. It may be only a finger, but I know it doesn't make it any easier. There was the death of two close friends to me. One around July, and another just two weeks ago. I don't even want to get into that. I never told anyone here or off of Iwaku. Certainly not the whole story until now. I didn't want anyone to think I was seeking pity. But tonight, I got the most wonderful gift I believe I will ever receive. As always, my family wanted to get together for Christmas. I agreed. As always. This one was a little different. Usually, I would be staying with my parents the week before so I could visit. Because of a bad falling out earlier in the year, I agreed to stay, but only the night before Christmas. Then we go to my grannies and we have Christmas there, spend the night, and we have dinner on Christmas Day. I went down expecting the usual heart wrenching fighting to start between my parents. Love them both, but in history, they can't get along to save their lives. There was nothing. We had a blast. Everything went as smoothly as it could, but I kept waiting to see what would happen. We have a new addition to my family this year. My uncle recently discovered he had a daughter he never knew about that is about 3 years younger than me and we hit it off. She was welcomed with open arms much to my surprise and she's been the extra unspoken support and the friend I needed all along. Usually new people are welcomed with distrust and gossip in my family. She was welcomed openly and warmly. The long drive went fine, as did Christmas. I was gifted a new laptop. After all my struggling with college and the thing that would have helped the most was a functioning laptop, I was given one. And my family (who isn't doing so good financially as this is West Virginia and if you live anywhere near here or keep up with news, you'll know our state isn't doing so good right now.) had all pitched in to get it. I was moved. Extremely moved. Moved to tears. I opened the box and I proceeded to bawl my eyes out. They kept asking why I was crying, and all I could say was that I was happy. I was so moved to tears because no one understood how much easier this has made my life with school. And no one fought. I wasn't so much moved by the gift of technology, but rather the gift that everyone got along and we had a nice, loving, family Christmas. I am still boo-hooing about it. And I cannot explain in words how badly I needed this or the true bliss it has brought me to just see my family so well together. That, to me, was the greatest gift I could ever receive. Sorry for the long rant, but I needed to share that with you guys.