It’s my birthday, and I kind of keep forgetting. For once, it isn’t because of you–it’s because my birthday got so completely overshadowed by Bitchmas last weekend. And that isn’t a complaint.

Since you never got to go to one I’ll explain Bitchmas. Just in case you were off playing in the stars or watching over your grandparents or playing with Layla’s new baby brother or something. See, your daddy has an amazing group of friends. Some of them he’s known for more than 20 years! Eight years ago they got together for a christmas party, which they called XXXmas, and exchanged “adult” gifts. The next year the party was rechristened Bitchmas, and has been going on ever since. This is my third one–and it’s the first where it hasn’t just been a big party; it was a three-day weekend in a giant beach house. Sort of like the wedding–about half of the same people go to Bitchmas. And it was amazing.

It made me miss you, sure. There are babies and kids and pregnant bellies there, and sometimes I had to go have a cigarette and sometimes a little cry. And Daddy sometimes pulled me aside because I’d gotten “that thousand-mile stare” around the babies. He almost always notices those little moments when that constant low thrum of missing you starts to become an audible wail, and he always is ready with a hug and a smoke break.

That big group of people is such a family to us, and I’m so glad that our family is encompassed by that greater family. It’s just like a third branch; Mommy’s side, Daddy’s side, and Our side. And it’s a whole village raising children right in front of us–and I’ve rarely met such smart, funny, eloquent children.

And that whole family just wrapped around us for the whole three days. We got to spend time with people that we’ve only ever seen at other Bitchmases. We went to the beach in the middle of the night, where Daddy flew his kite and got dragged around in the storm. We watched movies and played games and told stories and drank truly obscene amounts of liquor and just got silly and shitfaced and wonderful. A whole three days of decadence and fun and joy.

And you were still in there. People still ask about you sometimes, or ask if we’re okay. It’s not a secret, it’s nothing awkward. You’re just another part of this wheeling constellation of a family, just another marker in our shared history. And for that, I am profoundly grateful.

My heart is so full.