I have told this story many times, and this was to be written and uploaded the last time for Christmas Eve. Of course life happened (and my boisterous family's expectations) when I had other plans, so please enjoy this final story with all my best wishes for a peaceful and happy holidays. :)
In 1991 it was really rainy December in Seattle, and Judy and I were out to eat Thai food at our favorite restaurant. I recall we were having an overheated squabble about something I can not even remember as couples often do (back when being "right" was so important), and both feeling the chill of irked and uncomfortable silence as we walked back to the car. As we crossed the street to find where our truck was parked we passed a small antique store, and I glanced in the window and gasped. Sitting at the top of a tree full of vintage ornaments was one of my sweetest Christmas memories. It broke the silence between as I spoke. "See that angel tree topper Judy? My families tree topper was just like that one for years. When I was a little girl I thought that was the most beautiful thing in the world. I truly believed the fiberglass cloud was actually made of "real" angel hair." We shared a little chuckle over this childish magical thinking, and it thawed out our personal cold war a bit, making the trip home a little better.
That Christmas Day found us sharing the day with our little southern expatriate family Roger and Marty. It was a lovely Christmas, with excellent food (as is the case when children from the south gather for any holiday, and especially when Roger is cooking). It was the year Marty stood in line at I. Magnin to get a special signed Christopher Radko Madonna ornament for me, and I remember thinking at the time I opened it that this was, indeed, the perfect gift . So after all the presents were opened and all the wrapping paper was cleared away Judy remembered one last one. (I have never known whether this was intentional or she truly "forgot", it certainly seemed at the time this was genuine forgetfulness.) Presented in the flat brown bag it was packaged in when purchased was my beautiful treetop angel. I was delighted and speechless, completely overcome with emotion. It even surprised me at the intensity of it. This was to be one of the most memorable holidays of my life.
Over the years I have been given amazing and beautiful things as presents. Extravagant gifts, thoughtful gifts, and even sweet gifts as well. And I always remember this as one of the most meaningful, because it truly spoke to my heart. Not because it was a cherished childhood memory, but because I knew that Judy heard me and understood me at the core. Even when stressed out or angry at me, she truly listened and heard my heart. To me, this was what unconditional love was, and I knew at that very moment I have been truly loved in this life. Since then, I have tried my best to listen and hear what the heart wants when giving gifts to others, and be grateful for love where I find it, even if it doesn't always look like I thought it would or come with detailed instructions. Thank you Judy, as always. It is my wish everyone reading this finds this experience in their lives as well, if not this Christmas in their lifetime. Just remember to believe it is possible that fiberglass may be real angel hair, and you might find what you seek.
All my best to everyone, Merry Christmas.