We now come full circle in this meandering tale of our Christmas adventure (thank you for bearing with me to the end). The day after Cousinpalooza, we woke up with a sugar hangover and packed our plethora of stuff into bags and boxes and loaded into my parents’ 2 vehicles, to begin the pilgrimage to the Mechanic Uncle and retrieve the Earl of Towcester, who had his studs replaced.
Side note: when the Beloved and I were newlyweds, he worked at UPS (we actually had to race home from our paltry little 2 night honeymoon in Spokane, WA so he could make it to his shift), a job which has continued to bless us these 18 years. He makes having spatial reasoning look like a kick in the pants, being all Tetris Master Extraordinaire, somehow making every last thing we pile up for him fit into a very old van. I have learned to just stay out of the way.
While the roads were largely lovely, there appeared to have been freezing rain at my uncle’s shop and man, you don’t know what fun is until you try and move 18 tons of holiday detritus (minus a very important and missing pair of pants. I like to think my contribution to lightening the load was key, and I must say, praise the Lord for teenage daughters who overpacked in the jeans department and who wear my size) on a thick and slick sheet of ice.
Saying goodbye becomes worse for me with each passing year. I miss my people. I struggle with a grasping heart that longs to keep my personal happiness near to me, that craves the approval and affection of those I love, that finds it hard to breathe through the last hug, every single time.
But behold the kindness of God… we had not been long on the road when I received the most generous and spontaneous of invitations from my Southern Buddy (I have written about her before. Archives, much?) to delay our journey home and spend a night enjoying their fellowship and hospitality. I warned her that we were an exhausted, partially unwashed, and borderline slap-happy bunch and that the pass reports indicated the possibility of them being stuck with us longer than she may have intended. She indicated that they were exhausted and slap-grouchy on her end, so we would likely be a perfect fit.
In giving me my Southern Buddy, God gave me a friend for my heart. Her family is uniquely a gift to us in many ways, not the least of which being that they are all –wife, husband, son, daughter– genuinely enjoyable to all of us (be honest — how often does that happen? It feels way more common to have a mom friend whose kids you can’t stand or a husband who is simpatico and a wife that strikes you as alien. Now that all of you are wondering if you are those people, we can move on) and we are guaranteed encouraging, thought-provoking conversations at every turn. They are the people God placed in our lives in a moment of deepest need. They have moved us (sometimes singlehandedly) no less than 3 times, and they were some of the first who were willing to come alongside and get to know my husband’s mental illness and what it meant for our family. I ache when I have to part from my family; truth be told, I nearly weep when we leave the home of my Southern Buddies.
There was yet another mountain pass that stood between where we were and where we were going, in Wenatchee, WA, a strikingly beautiful, if not largely 2 lane situation that, providentially, appeared entirely clear of snow. So imagine our surprise when, a mere 3 miles from town, the traffic suddenly hit a standstill… and opted not to move more than inches for about 2 hours.
After the first hour, when several of us were rather feeling the need to find a water closet and we had already listened to an entire disc of Adventures in Odyssey and were moving onto rock music, a car driving the opposite direction had the decency and benevolence to hold a handwritten cardboard sign out his window: 2 SEMIS CRASHED 2 MILES AHEAD.
Ah. Well. Yes. That would do it.
Side note number 2: I want to be that person, that person who perceives the need and then takes immediate action on it. Reality? I am not that person. It would never have crossed my mind to do something so considerate. I don’t get up and start doing dishes in other people’s houses, I am unlikely to start a meal train, and I point and laugh at bicyclists. That last one may not be connected, but I figured while I am airing my immature dirty laundry, why not go whole hog? I wonder if I will ever grow up enough to become this person…
When we hit the 2 hour mark, and the 2 cars full of Indian families who kept hopping out and swapping treats covered in cellophane through their windows finally gave up and turned back the other way, we wondered if our impulse trip was a fool’s errand and we should follow their lead. And then — the biggest tow truck I have ever seen came the other way with a gigantic crunched up semi truck being pulled behind it. No idea what happened to the other truck. But suddenly traffic was free and we were at our friends’ house within 20 minutes, yahooing with the cutest toddlers you have ever seen, enjoying the calm and beauty of my Southern Buddy’s home, because her aesthetic is literally the most pleasing and comforting thing you can imagine (it is the definition of hygge). I always aspire to such peaceful decorating and somehow everything comes out… um, not in neutrals.
So there you have it. We slept hard, enjoyed the best tasting bacon on the planet, and trekked across the state, sorrowfully leaving family, friends, and piles of snow and returning to rain and green, a church we love and a job we are blessed to have, as well as all the dirty dishes from Christmas morning that had been sitting on the table since we left. It was the most uneventful drive we had all week.
Even as all this was happening, we all laughed and said, wow, God is giving us memories!! Every time something goes that horrendously wrong, we can either mope and be frustrated that our script got messed up, or we can be like the little child who is told to pick a hand and the first one they tap has nothing, or worse, something gross, but the owner of the hand has a glint in his eye and a smile on his face as he nods for you to tap the other hand and you find the treat he had planned to give you all along. Well, I choose childlike. We got the gross, but the treat overshadowed it. God can be trusted. He proved it with a Baby, in a manger, in a little town called Bethlehem, and He continues to prove it today.
So, Merry Christmas, everyone.