So yesterday was the agency Christmas party. I always avoid these affairs like the plague, so as my coworkers were boarding the bus to go to the restaurant where the party was held, I slipped out and headed home, a little sad.
I'd been compulsively checking my email all day, hoping to hear from my friend Kathleen. We had tentatively planned to get together to celebrate my birthday (11/22) and hers (12/26) and Christmas. She had mentioned how rough her life schedule had been lately -- her father suffered a debilitating stroke last summer and her mother, not very small herself, has been trying to keep him in the family home, and so Kathleen and her siblings have been taking turns spending evenings with their parents to lighten their load. But Kathleen has a very demanding job and she's just been run ragged.
When I hadn't heard from her all day -- not by call, email or text -- I thought she'd been overwhelmed and forgot about our date. It was understandable with all she had on her plate, plus the holidays. But it made me sad.
So I got home, had a little tuna salad and was watching TV when Kathleen called. "I'm just leaving my office now. I'll be there in about an hour."
She hadn't forgotten! She'd just been so swamped all day she hadn't had a moment to call me to confirm. I went from sad to happy so fast it was as though she was my own personal Christmas miracle.
We went to a tiki bar and enjoyed drinks (I had a couple Coco Locos, which are hot chocolate spiked with rum) and pineapple chips and dip. Most of all, I was happy that I was able to make her laugh and get her out of herself for a while. Her father will never again be able to dress or feed himself, her parents will have to be convinced to sell their home and move to a smaller and more manageable place, she doesn't like the job she devotes so much time to ... I'm glad I distracted her for a while. When I got home, I was surprised to see we'd been out for three hours. It did us both good.
Now for the gifts. I got her a book and a water bottle adorned with a photo of her and her daughter. (When her daughter is home from college, they run together every morning.) She got me a Downton Abbey mug with gourmet tea and a promise to see a Cub game this summer. And if you read this blog with any regularity, you know there's not much I want more than an afternoon within The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.