Given enough time, almost any house will collect ghosts. My house has plenty, even though I'm not one for hanging onto the past. Usually they creep in silently, like dust bunnies under the bed: When you see them, you know they must have been there for a long time, but you never catch them coming in the door.
When you think of Christmas, you think of joy. You think of glamorous décor -- bits of tinsel littering lawns and living rooms; trees bloated with shiny bulbs; strings of colorful lights draping porches and garages. But not all Christmases are wrapped perfectly in glossy silver paper with a white bow on top.
I don't spend a lot of time with my family in general. I think the main reason is that I'm the crazy-progressive-political relative, but part of it is that I'm a lesbian -- one who doesn't blend and pass quietly as an unmarried lady with a lady roommate who happens to come along to family events. Few people are overtly rude, but the expectation that I not make waves is very strong.
The period beginning with Thanksgiving and ending with New Year's is the busiest long-distance travel season of the year. This means that many of us will see relatives for the first time in many months. Use holiday family gatherings as an opportunity to look closer, listen harder and determine if your help is needed.