It was Christmas Eve and I couldn't drive to the airport fast enough. I wanted to flip off every car going slower than 55 on 45 mile-an-hour Southlake Boulevard. But then I had to remind myself, it's Christmas eve, a time for family and road trips and kids singing along to "Grandma got runover by a reindeer," in the backseat of the Expedition; not a time for road rage, speeding tickets, or waving my middle finger around like a victory flag.
Don't get me wrong, I had Christmas spirit and all, I was just ready to share it with Cayden. I had Christmas music cranked on 103.7 as I weaved around cars that had luggage and wrapped Christmas presents stacked to the roof and other cars that had cotton-stuffed reindeer antlers attached to the windows.
Back home, Mom and Corbin were putting the finishing touches on our Christmas Eve feast while Meg, Noelle, and Jay kicked off our holiday drinking tradition and Dad went to pick Abuela and Abuelo up from the nursing home. The presents were under the tree and all six dogs were sniffing around them, poking random gifts with one paw the way we used to (with our finger) when we were little and Mom would tell us not to touch any of them.
Our fake mistletoe was hung above the entrance to the second living room, the room with our beautiful Christmas tree adorned with Precious Moments ornaments (my grandmother used to give each of us one every year for Christmas. We hated that gift when we were younger. But as adults, we finally appreciate the beauty of it all), satin flowers, and fabric ribbons. When I was younger I wanted a fun tree, one with colored, flashing lights, big tacky ornaments in every shape and color, and tinsel. Lots of tinsel.
But now I get it. I could sit for hours just staring at our tree now, appreciating how my grandmother had written the first letter of our first names on our individual precious moments so when we're older and have a family of our own, we'll be able to take our Precious Moments with us to start our own beautiful, classy, elegant tree our kids will hate but learn to love.
I never got the chance to thank my grandma for the Precious Moments, but if I could, I'd go back in time and thank her for the precious moments that resulted from the Precious Moments. The moments when Dad turns on Christmas music (usually Neil Diamond or a Marvin Matthews Christmas CD) while we all sit down around our tubs of ornaments and carefully unwrap each and every Previous Moment, still in their original packages. Some of the boxes are brittle, so we have to open them just so, careful not to tear the package. Some of the glass Precious Moments have been super glued. But they all spark memories and conversations with my family:
"This one says 'First Christmas.' Corbin, that must have been right after you were born."
"Ah, this one is my absolute favorite. It's a little girl holding out a wrapped gift, but there's something about her that looks more innocent than the others."
"No, wait, this one is my favorite one."
"Um, that's not yours. That's mine."
"Remember how much we used to hate these?"
"Yeah, these and those weird glass china dolls that we weren't allowed to play with because their faces and hands were glass. What kind of a toy is that?"
Then we all laugh, take another swig of our beer, wine, or Red Bull Vodka (per Noelle and Jay).
These moments are precious. Thanks for those, Grandma.
I wanted Cayden to see it all. I wanted to him to kiss me under the mistletoe. I wanted him to stare up at our twinkling tree and ask me about the glass doe-eyed ornaments. I wanted him to pick out a favorite. I wanted him to tap his toe against a wrapped gift, just to test the weight of it, see if he could guess what's inside. I wanted him to put his arm around me while I hummed off-key to whatever Christmas music was playing from Dad's desk. I wanted to see a gift under the three that said "To: Whitney, From: Cayden." I wanted him to see my gift under the tree. The one that says "To Cayden, from Whitney." I wanted him to wonder what's inside.
And as I ran up to him at baggage claim at DFW airport, and I felt his strong arms around me, his warm lips on mine, it truly was a precious moment.