Sunday evening, my daughter-in-law texted me that she and my granddaughter would be stopping by at 7:15 a.m. Monday morning to bring me a Christmas surprise. That seemed a little early, but I would meet them whenever and wherever they propose, so I texted back, “Yes.”
I woke up about 6 a.m., got dressed and was sitting at my dining room table drinking coffee and reading the newspaper. It was still dark out, I hadn’t open the shades on the windows.
Suddenly, I heard men’s voices right outside my window. I peeked out and saw three men, one of them surveying the front of my house. I thought the worst. I summoned my most commanding voice, opened the front door and asked, “Can I help you?”
“We’re going to light your tree,” the guy studying the house said. I didn’t know what he was talking about.
“On whose authority?” I asked (“Shoot, does anybody really talk like that,” I thought.)
“Ashley’s,” he said without missing a beat.
For a minute, I still didn’t know what he was talking about. “Ashley is my daughter-in-law,” I blurted out.
“Yep,” he said. “She ordered it.” He smiled. I burst into tears. Within a few minutes, Ashley and my granddaughter showed up. Ashley consulted with the workmen while I cuddled the baby. When Ashley came back inside, she explained that it was a joint gift from all my kids -- my two sons and their wives.
As I’ve grown older, outdoor lights at night have become so important to me. Maybe it’s the result of living through so many gray Oregon winters. But even this year, during a stretch of dry, blue skies, the sight of sparkling lights against the night sky warms my heart. I have always wanted to light the dogwood tree outside my dining room window, but I couldn’t do it alone. Even if I could, I think my ladder-climbing days are behind me. I always assumed it would be too expensive to hire anyone to do it (let’s hope my kids didn’t spend their kids’ college funds on this project!). And so I have contented myself with a string of lights around my front porch and evening walks, where I soak in all my neighbors’ lights.
Well, this year, thanks to my wonderful children, I have a sparkling tree in my front yard. And, as I am reminded yet again, a remarkable family.