Looking for a Little Chaos Now and Then

This time of year makes me miss my family. Not only my actual family members, but also our communal Christmas experience. I come from a huge family, both immediate and extended and holidays were a mix of crazy and chill. Kids everywhere. Cards. Food. Dominoes. Blaring TV (my dads contribution). Puzzles. The various in-laws hiding in corners reading books. Beautiful, glorious chaos. 
As per family tradition, I married an introvert with only one sibling. We live in the Northwest, 2 hours from my mother-in-law and 3 from my sister-in-law, while my family gathers in San Diego (and in small pockets all around the country). As you can imagine, most of our holidays are spent with my husbands family and local friends. This has been a surprisingly seamless transition. My Sibley family has always been kind to me and I assimilated very early on. I'm so glad to live in the Northwest and am very happy with our life here with Tim's family and our friends. 
That being said, when we're having a small holiday gathering here (10 now, we're growing!) sometimes I miss the hooplah that is my family of origin. On Christmas Eve, we would all sleep at my parents 3 bedroom house, which meant we had people on the floor, in the bathtub, little ones piled 3 deep into beds head to foot. Absolute bliss. And every year, when I climb into bed with my dear husband on Christmas Eve, I can't help but miss all those nights whispering excitedly with my brother about what Santa would bring. Whoever woke up first immediately woke the other and we would open our stockings excitedly. We'd try so hard to go back to sleep as we couldn't get away with waking everyone else until sunrise. There's something so precious about those childhood years with your original family. It was sweet. It was simple. It was always enough.
My brother, Reid, is 3 and half years older than me. For all intents and purposes, he is my opposite and my other. We present very differently. I was always blonde and clean cut. He often had green hair, piercings and a skateboard. But as only Christmas Eve jitters and sharing a room can do, we have a firm attachment. We don't get to see each other often, so when we do, I really try to soak it up. He's very transient and off the grid and that's just him. 
We have so much history between us. Not just the childhood sweetness (and many instances of not-so-sweet...remember when he shot me with his homemade bow and arrow?) but also some very adult seasons as well. Reid is a recovering drug addict. I won't get into specifics because to me, it is not who he is. His life with drugs has had a profound effect on him, of course, but when you start throwing around that label, it puts people in a box. Let me tell you, my brother doesn't fit into any box. 
There were many years when we didn't quite know where he was, fearing that when we did get word, it would come from a newspaper clipping or the police. Despite what you may assume, he's not an asshole. He is just someone who values all experience. He's found light within himself that he can take into really dark places and he is not afraid of anything. Seriously, do you know anyone who's not afraid of ANYTHING. It's mind-blowing and wonderful.
When I drove him home tonight to NE Portland, he was bummed about the plight of his beloved neighborhood (it's gone trendy). He feels most comfortable in dangerous places. He lives with a woman and her motley crew of "family" who, along with her partner, has always given him a home base. She runs a food bank right from her front porch. It's amazing. 
As a caretaker, I used to worry that he was cold and alone somewhere, not knowing how I could help him, but wanting to so desperately. Pulling onto his street tonight reminded me, my brother really is okay. He has like 3 possessions (and they're all books) and he has absolutely everything he needs. He has coffee, work, reading material and a real community. That's more than a lot of people in fancy houses with typical "successful" lives can say. 
Just having him here with us tonight gave me that piece of home I needed to take with me into Christmas Eve. I love how we can talk about anything. He's incredibly well-read, has always been a bit of an anarchist and has the most open mind of anyone I know. Anyone who knows my penchant for deep conversation can imagine my utter delight in two cups of coffee, a couch and a long talk with my brother. 
As a child, I was able to take risks only after I saw him do it first. He'd climb a tree and then reach down and pull me up. He's a rebel in the truest sense of the word. As his rule-following younger sister, he exposed me to a world that was bigger than I would have ever seen on my own. And now that I'm really coming into my own, he reminds me there's still so much to see if I'm willing to just keep climbing that tree.