How does this happen!? The holidays are here again, with family (expectations) and feasting (that is never on your diet) and gift-giving (that is always expensive and never satisfying to the recipient). The ending of the year, regardless of your religious background, is rich with meaning. It is the omega of this year, just before the alpha of next; it is the flickering flame on the darkest day. Even without the encouragement of Madison Avenue and the promise of the ideal gift, meal, or social exchange, it would take a very thick skin to resist the excitement of the season, and to absorb the promises made of ideal family experiences, whether or not they are actualized. By the time we emerge into full adulthood, we have at least a couple of decades of layered memories, heavily laced with, among other emotions, intense hope and profound disappointment. They lay like heavy high-mountain snow, latent through the year, then triggered by the first jingle tune or holiday letter to “all our friends and family”, avalanche about us.