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PHILADELPHIA — Jordan Mailata was trembling recently, wondering whether or not his parents — Maria and Tupa’i — were going to make it in time for the holidays. Given the influx of flight delays over the past week, Mailata had his doubts. If he needed to wait a few more days, “So be it,” he thought. It’s only been four years since Mailata last saw his father and mother in his native Australia. ...

On Christmas Eve, I have the honor of distributing the gifts that have accumulated under the tree. This is no small undertaking. Eight grandchildren intently watch my every move, hoping the next gift might slide in their direction. In addition to ensuring equal billing for grandchildren, I also take strides to save the bigger gifts for adults as a grand finale.

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