My anticipation is building like a small child who is counting the days til Christmas. I’ve had to write down the things I’ve needed to get completed each day, because the closer it gets. the more my mind is fixated on Christmas Eve with Goose. Tonight will be the first year since I became a mother in 1979 that I won’t be with my children on Christmas Eve. I have to admit, it feels odd. But I don’t feel afraid or like I’m abandoning them. In fact, tomorrow I’ll celebrate with my children, but for tonight, they all have their own plans. It’s taken a major coordination of details to pull this off. My ex husband called this morning and said he’d pick up our 9-year-old at 5:00 p.m. this evening on his way to his holiday celebration. He fully expected that I’d be sitting alone on Christmas Eve. I heard the dismay in his voice when I told him that I had plans. I explained that we could meet part way at noon so he can take our son to the celebration. And we made arrangements for me to pick him up on Christmas morning. I could hear his curiosity. But I didn’t share my plans with him.
I got everything packed in the car. Three pans of carmel rolls, one for Goose and one for each of his son’s families. I wanted Goose to have something to open from me on Christmas so I found a shirt in a beautiful burgundy plaid. He wears a lot of classic black and beige colors. Little miss bold and daring chose some color for him. I packed my bag and put in an extra outfit in case of a major spill or something. Didn’t want to go to church with gravy dribbled down my front side. (I was a girl scout, I try to be prepared.) I also packed in the gifts for my son and a pan of carmel rolls for him and my ex. (It is the season of giving.) I keep checking the clock. Oh gosh… the anticipation! Then my ex called. He said the snow is falling pretty fast where he lives and we’d better meet if we’re going to. That’s when I remembered to have my son get in the car too, lol. We drove the 15 miles to our meeting place. The cars were driving with no abandon on the highway. The sky was a deep gray and the snow was falling. Add a little worry with the anticipation and you have me clutching the steering wheel. There was no way I was about to let a little snow disrupt my plans. It wasn’t in the coordination of the details.
The snow plow hasn’t been out and the exit ramp is thick with wet snow. The sky is darker here and the snow is falling in big, heavy, wet flakes that splash as they hit my windshield. I swallowed hard and remembered to breathe. Breathing is good. I found a place to turn off the road into a parking lot and I called my ex to tell him where we were waiting for him. He said he was still a few miles away. I decided now was a good time to clear my windshield wipers of slushy snow build up. I left the Christmas Carols playing on the car radio to help hide my concern about the road conditions. They’re getting worse. Even my denial isn’t working now.
“Hey there’s Dad!” my son shouted.
He was pulling into the parking lot along side my car. I unloaded the gifts and gave him the carmel rolls. He seemed pleased and smiled as he took them from me. That’s when he could bear his wonderment no longer.
“I don’t even know where you’re going?” he questioned.
It’s different this holiday for all of us this year. He and I have spent 18 Christmas’ together. I told him I was heading north. That was the truth. I let him assume I was going to Michele’s. He told me to drive carefully. I hugged my 9-year-old and buckled myself in the car. Then I said a little prayer for safe travels. When the weather is bad and travelers are on the roads, I often think of us out there getting through the conditions together. Even though you never share a word or even a wave with the other drivers, somehow, there is a connecting camaraderie. And when one driver leaves the convoy, I always wish them well.
I looked in the rear view mirror as I left the parking lot. I suddenly felt very sad. I could feel the tears burning my eyes. Then I forced a deep breath as I drove back onto the highway headed north into the white curtain of snow. I called Goose. As soon as I heard his voice I felt a warm calm pour over me. He’s there and I’m on my way to him. It’s finally Christmas Eve.