I did not want to go back to Texas this year, after the last two Christmases. I said--in fact--that I was NOT going back. I had planned to take a short trip to see my folks right after the semester ended, but I had to work two more weeks to complete some things that had to be done prior to my January South Africa trip. It was not go--my first choice, I have to confess--or go with Randy for the week of Christmas. I chose to go with him.
We spent a pleasant 3 days with Randy's dad and our friend Jim, going out to eat, and my cooking dinner for us. We spent an afternoon with Auntie and BenBen, and it was like we had never left Abilene. I spent 3 days at my folks, seeing my sister and two of my nieces. The weather did not cooperate for me to see the other two, but still, it was a gift for what I was able to do. I talked to my last surviving aunt and uncle on the phone.
Mostly, it was the time with Mom and Dad--just the 3 of us and their dog, Teka. I cooked for them, we visited, Dad and I fed his livestock and shoveled snow, and we watched old movies and watched it snow. No drama, no arguments, no hurt feelings.
I got back to Randy's dad's last night in time for Christmas dinner. After a lovely meal that Randy prepared and dessert of Chet's pecan and key lime pies, we watched the ball game together. Chet said he was so glad we had come and that it helped make it easier to get through Christmas without Randy's mother. Randy said that was why we were there. Randy and Chet had exchanged gifts that morning, so I gave Chet my present for him, and he brought me his for me. It was a sweet moment, and reminded me of what a wonderful second father he has been to me all these years. He said he wanted to do something special this year, as this might be his last Christmas, or at least the last year he would be able to do something special. I don't know if that will end up being a prophecy or not, but I know I cherish the last Christmas we had with Jean--she died a little over a week after we had been home for Christmas.
Shortly before we left for this trip, I mused that I could not give up hoping that someday, it would be a Christmas like I wanted. When I went this year, all I promised myself was that I would take what I got. Amazingly, I got the most wonderful time I can recall in years, and that was the best gift of all.