I hope everyone had as nice and heartwarming Christmas as we did.

I didn’t get the sports car I ordered; Gayle didn’t get her diamond broach (I’m convinced it tumbled off Santa’s sleigh somewhere over Norway); no one in the family won the lottery; but we were blessed with family and health – two blessings I thank the Lord for every day.

There’s nothing more important than family.

Unfortunately nowadays, it is impossible for all families to enjoy the day together extended as they are.

But, we always remember those not with us and think fondly of them when we’re apart.

Like I said, ours was pretty much normal, but it was festive.

On Christmas Eve’s Eve, we gathered at my daughter’s for a cheese and wine celebration and exchanging of gifts. My daughter married into a fine family that is a pleasure to be with. My next daughter’s family is just as wonderful to be around. My older daughter’s family I regret to admit I’ve never met, but I know we would cherish being around them just as those down here in Southeast Texas.

Christmas Eve, we go to my in-laws, Jim and Janelle, for the most delectable, most tasty, most Cajun of gumbos. If your sinuses are clogged when you sit down at the table, one thing I can guarantee you, partner, they won’t be when you get up.

Susan, Little Mikey and Big Mike spent Christmas Eve with his mom and grandmother, two of the most gracious and fine ladies you’ll ever meet. Amy, Keegan and Jason spent Christmas Eve with us at Jim and Janelle’s.

Christmas Day, after exchanging gifts at the house, we headed for Janelle’s and Jim once again. It’s always a feast there with turkey, roast, dirty rice, deviled eggs, cornbread dressing, candied yams (with marshmallows), sweetpea salad, cranberry sauce, and buttered rolls, topped off with a 30,000-calorie Sweetheart Salad.

Look out bathroom scales.

This year my grandsons added a little spice to the gathering.

The 4-year-old, Keegan, arrived first. He was his usual amiable little self. My nephew, Cory, took Keegan out back to play with the puppy. That little squirt could have played with the dog all day until he discovered the mud puddle in the corner of the yard.

He was wearing tennis shoes, jeans and a pullover, none of which we could identify when his mommy pulled him out of the mud. In fact, the cream-colored dog was brown.

So, Cory gave Keegan the hose to wash off the dog. Keegan did a great job, a spectacular job cleaning off the muddy mutt, and then he calmly turned the hose on Cory and did the same spectacular job cleaning him off, all the while laughing like a maniacal little devil.

Cory dug up some dry shorts and an Orangefield T-shirt for Keegan, who rushed outside just in time to greet his little cousin Mikey.

Now, Mikey wore tennis shoes, brilliant white socks, starched shorts and neat pullover; a perfect picture for Christmas.

Well, I don’t have to tell you what happened.

Those two little guys found every mudhole, ditch of water, and soggy flowerbed they could. Now, you might not believe me, but since they’re both kind of tow-headed, I had to look twice to tell them apart at the end of their adventure.

But on that Christmas day, those two little ones had the time of their lives, racing through mud, falling in water, and in general, seeing who could cover up the most of their skin with mud.

Needless to say, when the day was over and they were cleaned up as much as was possible, they headed home.

I don’t need to tell you they were asleep before they hit the end of the block.

They gave all of us a Christmas we’d never forget.

And I hope you enjoyed yours as much as we did.