Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Last night, I finally got a whiff of the Christmas spirit.

True to form, I decided that 1:30pm on Christmas Eve day was the optimal time to start my Christmas shopping. By 3:00pm, I was done and pleased with my choices. It was a positively glorious day in Seattle and my mood lightened. Kyle offered me a ride up, and about 4pm, as dusk settled in, we headed up to Bellingham. It was, quite frankly, a perfect drive - great conversation and terrific music. I have always believed that Kyle and I are the most alike (among the siblings) and share the most interests and tastes, and the 1.5 hour drive absolutely flew by. It was nearly the polar opposite of the drive last Christmas Eve.

We ended up going into the city of Bellingham to grab some last minute groceries, and Kyle wanted to pick up some beer at his favorite local pub. It comes in these jugs that are just fun to serve, and while we waited for them, we grabbed a pint. Kyle looked at me earnestly and asked if he could bring up a topic that was none of his business. My family is pretty no holds-barred when it comes to most topics, so I told him to go for it. He then asked me if I was going to go back to my maiden name on Monday, the day my divorce is final. I told him that I had thought about it quite a bit and, were it not for my professional career, I would. He said, "you know K, I think this is the last part of the process for you." He laughed and said he understood why I wouldn't want to retake my maiden name, as, quite frankly, it can be obnoxious. But still, this wasn't about the name itself, but rather the principle.

We talked about it for a few minutes and then it hit me. Hell, I could legally change my surname back without any obligation to change my professional surname. I could do it gradually, if at all, and just slowly start changing names on my personal accounts. Suddenly, I agreed. This was the last part of the process. This is not about going back, but more about going forward without the umbrella of B&K. This is me - just me - not B's ex-wife. This is just me. Yes. A good plan. Thanks, Kyle. I just needed a paradigm shift.

When we arrived, we immediately encountered the parents in festive hats. Yes. This was good and right. Keegan and Elisha arrived about an hour later and we all just chilled and hung out. Keegan grilled steaks, I whipped up some pumpkin crack, we ate, watched TV, talked about the wedding, surfed the net and drank entirely too much great wine. It would have been a perfect night if my sister and her daughter would have been there. They aren't coming up until Friday, for the wedding, but I did talk to her on IM and let her know they were terribly and sorely missed. All in all, a nearly flawless Christmas Eve, at least by my standards.

Woke up, popped in the potatoes for the morning brunch and took Darbs for a long walk. There are plenty of places up there where she can run without the leash, and watching her burst in the open fields was a great present in itself. For a little dog, she has a surprising amount of energy and athleticism. She went nuts and completely wore herself out, and as we walked up the steep hill back to the house, she actually stopped and looked at me, as if to ask "would you mind carrying me the rest of the way?"

Answer: No. Buck up and let's sprint, little girl. Hills are why God gave us legs. You have four. Race you to the top.

I finished preparing our breakfast of green eggs (scrambled eggs with jalapeno pecan pesto) and ham (roasted bacon) and roasted potatoes. We finally got around to the business of opening presents and everyone was pleased. My parents bought me an ipod Nano, which I had wanted once I realized that the iphone battery cannot sustain my telephone and ipod habit (and that my last Nano's battery was dead). Keegan and Elisha got me a wine chiller, which is fabulous, and I scored a couple of good books and odds and ends. Keegan loved his Seahawk jacket (I owe Kyle for the tip) and Kyle seemed to like his ipod docking station/alarm clock. I got the parents gift certificates for golf, spa, dinner and other such things (nothing they have to lug back to Nigeria). It really is more fulfilling to give than to receive.

My favorite present, however, came a few hours later. Kyle had disappeared to his old room, attempting to ready it for the guests coming for the wedding. When he emerged, he brought me a CD he had just burned for me. He told me I would like it and I thanked him for the effort. I was reading Into The Wild, which is the book he got me, and made a mental note to listen as soon as I got home.

But I got the chance to listen on the drive home with Keegan and Elisha. They popped it into the CD player and lo and behold, Kyle had made me a CD with all of the songs we listened to on our great drive up. I was grateful for the darkness of the back seat, as I was really touched that he did that. That it was as good for him as it was for me, so to speak. I had already mentally composed a soundtrack for our trip, but he was thoughtful enough to put it in physical form. I will never forget that drive with him.

It never ceases to amaze me that the best gifts are the ones that come from the heart and soul.

I hope all of you had as soul-affirming of a holiday as I did. Merry Christmas, from every part of my heart.

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