Holiday departure

Dear friend,

I sit in the main concourse of Portland International Airport with bags of Christmas gifts at my side. I finished my gift shopping for the family a few weeks ago, and now I can’t wait to see them received. My own friends, and boyfriend, have already given me so much this season. Even the little girl I mentored for two years, whom I’ve ended my formal relationship with, picked out some presents for me and insisted that I open them in front of her as she opened her gift from me. We had an animal theme going on. I gave her a children’s novel about a girl and a pony, and a reindeer tree ornament; she gave me two jigsaw puzzles, one with a picture of cats and the other full of dogs. She also drew a picture inside the Christmas card showing her and me riding a giant cat. She didn’t say “thank you” for her gifts, but I came to expect that a long time ago. Maybe it’s because I’m no longer a mentor that it didn’t occur to me to correct her and elicit some verbal appreciation.

It is dreary outside on the runway, but inside it’s as pleasant as usual. This really is a nice airport, and I must have picked a good time to fly (3:45 in the afternoon) because it isn’t too crowded. I only wish that somebody was at the piano to play Christmas tunes. Not that I haven’t had my fill of holiday music this season. My head has been in Christmas-land since before December. That’s partly due to a new boyfriend who has made me feel as joyful as a kid. Among many other things, he’s one of the rare people in my life who actually enjoys carols, like I do. So we’ve been singing with the car radio, singing as we walk down the street, singing as we prepare meals or bake in the kitchen.

I’ve been overly indulgent this season as well. Each time I’ve gone out to buy a gift, I’ve found something for myself too. My budget will return to normal sometime after New Year’s Day. But as long as I haven’t spoiled another person’s planned gift for me, I’m okay with having treated myself a bit.

Besides gift exchanges, my four-year-old niece, Madison, is the main reason for my excitement at going “home” to California for Christmas. It surprises me how much I miss her since last seeing her in June. She has warmed up to me, although she often refuses to talk to me on the phone when my parents encourage her to. Skype video chat is a better medium for her; that way, she gets to show me her toys and outfits, and I get to show her my cats. Well, she gets to see Jasper the cat—but Ellie “is always hiding”, as Madison says. On our most recent video chat I showed her the two Christmas gifts she’ll be receiving from me, in their wrapping paper of course. I look forward to watching her tear them open.

It pains me to admit, as an adult, that I look forward to opening my own presents too.

-Kristen

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