The long wait is over

It’s Dec. 21, the shortest day of the year, and yet today is going to be great day.
I know this to be true for many reasons, the least of which is the fact that it’s Monday and I don’t have to go to work.
I get up extra early to the sound of big dog ears flopping and shaking in the kitchen—the telltale alarm clock that informs me it’s time to go out and water a tree.
“Cash” greets me with snarly smiles and vociferous grunts. His long wagging tail bends the dry house air, causing instant static and levitating all the tinsel on the Charlie Brown tree I have near the back door of my kitchen, which then jumps onto my housecoat as I brush by on the way to open the back door.
My wish for a new blanket of snow overnight is not met, but what the heck. It’s enough for another practice session with my new snowblower, which I’ve affectionately named “Little John,” kin to my bruiser lawn tractor, “Big John.”
And, oh yes. It’s the first day of winter and it’s not a gazillion degrees below zero. I can stand outside in my tinsel-covered housecoat and slippers and not freeze solid on the spot.
Perfect.
The coffee pot has brewed me up a bold morning beverage and today I cannot make it past the fridge without burping the lid on my Christmas baking container and sneaking out a piece of fudge and two peanut butter kisses.
Perfect.
I am, however, not completely ready for Christmas just yet. I have gifts to buy for parent-folk who already have everything, including a new kitchen sink.
I consider the sneak art of re-gifting to my mom the “Neti Pot” my sister-in-law gave me last Christmas. It’s up in the cupboard with my collection of un-displayed antiques, where I expect it will become one after 30 or 40 more years of shelf life, unopened.
I consider buying my dad a heater for his workshop or trace lights so he can find his way from the door to the bench through all the Christmas decoration boxes covering the floor space in there.
On second thought, maybe not.
I have most of the gifts to my children and grandchildren wrapped and ready for delivery in Granny’s little orange Sport Ranger sleigh. At the moment, the brightly-coloured presents spill out from a corner of my kitchen, just far enough into the room so that I can trip over them on the way to change the TV channel in the living room.
And thankfully, the dogs have not yet discovered that some of them contain food.
I’ve mailed out three dozen Christmas cards (far more than I receive, but who’s counting?) The five I have gotten this year are taped prominently to the wall in my kitchen and after I put up the other 25 I’ve received over the last six years—well, I’ll have quite the display.
But who’s counting?
I check my holiday “to-do” list, copied 13 times to different slips of paper scattered across the kitchen table. No doubt about it, I am a first-born list-maker.
I check the pocket of my wallet for the one scrap of note paper that lists grocery items and stocking-stuffer ideas. I decide to re-do those lists, separating the two categories so that somebody doesn’t end up with a head of lettuce in their stocking on Christmas morning instead of a orange.
There’s one opened gift under my tree, exchanged with a gal pal over lunch at the local doughnut shop last week. I was supposed to wait just a little longer to open it, but who can resist such things?
Resistance: “the ability to say no to temptation.” I manage to uphold that law most of the time, except where chocolate is concerned.
And likely tonight at 8:30 p.m., resistance will be futile, as well, when I am tempted to bolt through a set of security doors and out onto the tarmac screaming for joy as Peter leaves the airplane from the last leg of a 16-plus hour flight from Afghanistan where he has been working.
The moment I lay eyes on his beautiful face is ultimately why Dec. 21, 2009 will be a great day because I haven’t seen him since March 9—nine months and 12 days ago.
All I want for Christmas just came home.

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