I often remember back to one special night. If I could produce a movie, it would be about this. I would set the soundtrack to largely mirror that of the soundtrack for The Words. The moment was a combination of both highly tense and extremely excited. This moment in my memory bore little fruit, and yet I treasure this moment over championships, proms, accomplishments — why? Because my family is at the core of my being, and those moments that have been so special have been with them. So, the memory I keep close to my heart began when I was approximately 7 years old.

One Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve has always been the favorite day of all the holidays for my family. However, this specific moment stands out. It was easily 3 AM on Christmas Day and I could not sleep. And as luck would have it, neither could Libby, my younger sister (5 years old at the time). We were a team. We always have been, and always will be. We both were splitting our time sitting and pacing around in the upstairs bathroom. We both could not control our overwhelming excitement for

I so vividly remember Libby in that moment. She had her hair in a bob; her dutch-boy haircut. She was so innocent. Innocent in the sense that the world had not yet impressed upon her how to act, how to think, how to feel, and who too feel for (not saying she does not think for herself currently). We had few preconceived notions. We were not bullied (much) or told that X is good and Y is bad. We just knew that Santa was coming. Santa was a good guy, and that was all we needed and wanted to know.

I remember that smile. That smile! The kind of smile that could light up your world. You know — the very toothy smile. The care free, I love life, kind of smile. We both were so care-free. We didn’t think about our next paycheck, or any issue we had at the time. No, not at all… all we could think about was opening presents and playing with our toys. What will we get? I really hope Santa liked the cookies and carrots. We could not possibly be more excited. Our hearts were leaping out of our chests. Clearly, we could not sleep. Opening presents was simply too important! But that smile. I remember how her happiness, her excitement, made me all the more excited. Fascinating how emotions in others is so easily shared.

We truly held the enthusiasm that every young child held in knowing that Santa Clause was in fact coming to town.

Santa. Is. Coming!

We could not sleep.

Should we wake mom and dad up? No, no. It’s too early. They won’t say yes. Let’s wait here longer.

Yes, well, this waiting game lasted until 6 AM when we finally found the nerve to barge into our sleeping parents’ bedroom and jump for joy on their bed. We could not wait any longer. Santa must have already dropped off the presents!

With a smile on my face and I heavy heart, I remember every detail of that moment in my life. I remember the mirror, the bathtub, the bathroom rug. I should after all, as I stared at it for hours contemplating how soon I should wake up my parents!

And it is from moments like these that I have come to realize a magnificent lesson: we can touch happiness in the memories we keep.