Mid December my dad sent me a casual text asking about our trip to NASA for Red’s birthday, followed by “what are your plans for Christmas?” We had just been talking about what to get for him for Christmas! I replied that Paul didn’t have much time off and we would enjoy a quiet Christmas at home, and asked about his plans. He replied just as casually that he hadn’t been sure, waiting to see whether his parents would be in town or up north. He then asked whether we would like to go up for Christmas. Within an hour he had purchased tickets for the four of us to go up. Then he said, “you asked me what I wanted for Christmas, just show up. If you really want to put something under the tree I’ll give you a bottle of wine you can wrap.”
Friends, Christmas of 1997 is the last Christmas I have spent with any member of my family. I can’t express how overwhelmed I was at the prospect of going to Canada for Christmas.
Paul and I had been talking in hushed and covert language as we worked this out to avoid getting anyone’s hopes up in case it wouldn’t work. When it was settled I started to cry and my sweet Red, putting together what little he understood, said, “we would miss you for Christmas, but I understand you wanting to be with your family.” He was overjoyed to learn we would all be together.
The following two weeks were hectic. December is a crazy month anyway and with the ice storm at the beginning of the month many events were smushed together later on. I admit I didn’t always carry The Christmas Spirit with me and sometimes grumbled at the additional demands placed on me and my time. Knowing I was leaving town, leaving the country, kept me from doing something regrettable. I almost didn’t get packed before we left but I didn’t care!
It was a perfect trip.
There was real snow on the ground, unusual for Vancouver, which melted the following day. We saw all our family living in the lower mainland, including both my brothers on that side; the three of us have not been together in probably right years. We took the boys up to Grouse Mountain for some good winter memories and showed them the Observatory where we had a pre-wedding dinner/reception.
It was not a long trip, but finally being able to relax and be with family was so centering. I had fooled myself to soothe myself that it didn’t matter when I saw my family, but it was different to be with them for Christmas. The holidays really are special.
I wanted to keep that newly rediscovered peace with me for ever. It was the best Christmas.