As I begin to emerge from the disorganization of the past month or so, getting the girls back in to their routines of school and regular bedtimes, making some headway on my book project, injecting some predictability into our lives once again, I am finally able to sit down and begin to fully appreciate my Christmas gift from Bubba.
Before I go any further, I should tell you that Bubba's greatest goal when presenting me with any gift is to see tears. Underneath that red neck of his, he's a sensitive guy (shhh, don't tell him I let on...) and he loves knowing that he's touched me so deeply that I can't temper my response and I start crying. That has backfired at least once. On our tenth wedding anniversary he presented me with a gorgeous ring he'd not been able to afford when he asked me to marry him and I was so appalled that 1) I had nothing for him per our previous agreement not to get anniversary gifts for each other, and 2) he'd spent a significant amount of money on something that served no other purpose than to show me how much he loved me that I punched him. I immediately began sobbing in the middle of the restaurant, too, but first, I punched him. Hard. He knows I have a hard time assessing my own self-worth and receiving gifts like this butt up against my practical side. Nonetheless, he insists on continuing to debunk that myth and remind me how much I mean to him. Obnoxious, huh?
Anyway, back to the story at hand. As many of you may remember from blog posts past, my dearest friend and her children moved to Europe last summer. The girls and I were absolutely devastated. These were the people we shared Easter and Christmas traditions with. These were the special 'chosen' family we opted to spend our free time with. We saw each other multiple times a week, pulled each others' bacon off the fire more than once, called each other in the middle of the night to pinch hit in times of crisis, laughed until we cried, and fully expect to grow old together. There was even one occasion during which we attempted to arrange the lesbian marriage of our two eldest daughters (unfortunately, they both have somewhat strong personalities and will insist on making up their own minds, damn them!). Many sorrowful phone calls and attempts to communicate via webcam have ensued and living without them just up the road has taken some of the shine off of our daily lives.
As I sat in the living room on Christmas morning, one of the children brought me a package to open. I looked at Bubba to see if it was okay with him that I open it now (there is an order to these things, you know) and he got a silly, smug smile on his face. Uh oh. He was proud of his efforts this year. He's shooting for tears. Yup.
He got 'em. I gently removed the wrapping paper along the seams (makes him crazy how long it takes me to open a gift - I'm not a 'rip and tear' kind of gal) to reveal a travel book. The bookmark was an IOU - a plane ticket to Europe. By myself. The note said, "Go spend some time with your best friend. By yourself. I've got things covered here. I love you."
The rest of the family were quite confused as I hurtled myself across the room into his lap and thoroughly soaked his t-shirt with my sobs. Isn't he the best?