IT is during the Christmas-to-New Year's interregnum that the cyclical nature of the family is most apparent. Not long ago we were the urchins swept up by parents in a holiday whirlwind to warmhearted grandparents and family friends. Always there were unexpected delights: a hug to remember, a carefully selected trinket, steaming cocoa on a freezing afternoon.
Then we were the parents, toting little ones to our own parents to luxuriate in family togetherness and love. And to hear a happy mother say: ''The house comes alivem when you all come home.''
This week it is our children, grown now, who make the rounds; to parents, in-laws, family friends. We are glad to see and pamper them. It is a time, however brief, to savor family unity and gain strength from it. And to understand fully, finally, what mother meant; the house doesm come alive.