When my daughter was three years old, I dressed her for Christmas in white eyelet and black velvet. Her weightless blonde hair was like duck down. She squirmed and squealed with wide-eyed anticipation and wanted to open everyone’s gifts for them. Her excitement couldn’t be contained. It’s a wonder she has such self-control now. It must take a lot of strength to rein in all that enthusiasm, to wait your turn, to behave yourself.
Between that day and now, 21 years have passed. This is the first time my daughter and I have been apart at Christmas. I’ve nearly forgotten how, during one long December road trip, she drove us crazy by endlessly looping Ace of Base’s hit single. Almost forgiven is the holiday when she shattered a bottle of Chanel N°5 while energetically waving goodbye to her boyfriend from the upstairs bathroom window at 2:00 a.m.
I went for a long walk just before nightfall, and no neighbor’s car careened past, young man protruding from the window to bellow her name. She wasn’t there to roll her eyes and try not to laugh. Tonight there are 500 miles between us.