We won't have to dream about a white Christmas this year. We'll probably be cussing it.

Mother Nature never knows when enough is enough, so while the remnants of the last snowstorm linger in piles of snow, another blast has added to it.

Mounds of snow and blizzards are great when you are at home watching them on television.

I have to admit, I enjoy watching news accounts of mass amounts of snow, people trying to navigate snow-covered streets and people plowing out of snow drifts taller than they are, but living through it is another thing.

But there is nothing humanly possible to do except watch the weather and enjoy the season.

I believe our family is about ready for Christmas. The gifts have been bought, and as soon as I stop procrastinating and wrap them, they can be placed under the tree. There is some last-minute baking to be done, but we are ready to go.

I was recently looking through some photos my daughter, Claire, used in a school project.

It really made me realize how many Christmases I have seen, although I measure them more since my wife and I had children rather than my own childhood.

My days of waking up the family early on Christmas morning are long gone and seem like a lifetime ago. And now, my children have grown so that early morning wake-up calls come a lot later these days thankfully.

But these photographs made me think about how the years have gone by and the little ones are quite big now.

It's been a while since there were a plate of cookies left out and the excitement built for the big guy's arrival.

I used to wonder what Christmas would be like once Claire and Alek got older and some of the anticipation changed. Would the day be as much fun? Would it lose some of its luster?

Well, Christmas has changed. It has to when you go from small children to teenagers, but that does not mean the day has lost anything.

After all, the reason we celebrate never changes. Although hype and commercialism are more prevalent each year, nothing matters more than when we gather with family.

So as I nostalgically look back at these photos and two little kids who actually smiled for the camera and two younger parents including a guy who could grow facial hair that didn't come in gray I remember them fondly.

They are great memories, but in a family's journey, these are just moments captured along the way.

There are more memories, more events, more celebrations to add to our collection, a collection that makes up a family.

It is hard to imagine when your children are young how they will turn out, what they will look like, how their interests will change, but in many ways they remain the same.

The little girl in the picture sitting on her dog is still an animal lover, and although his curls are long gone, the boy pictured is still the one who wakes us up in the morning to open gifts.

Even though the weather was miserable for traveling, we will still have each other and a day to add to the memories.

Some day, a few years down the line, we will look back at these pictures and remember our wintery Christmas and all the joy it brought.

Patrick Murphy, Columbus, Neb., is the former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.