Frankly, he’d rather hang curtain rods.
I’d given him a very long list of of repairs to do when he arrived to spend Christmas week with me this year. The kids were visiting their dad in Texas, and we had a lot to accomplish before they returned home. Although I’m fairly competent with a screwdriver, making those small, time-consuming household repairs has been a bit beyond me since my divorce. I used to have contractors take care of all that — which was, in and of itself, a lot to manage. Now I work with a more modest budget and mostly my own two hands.
Which is how I found myself at Lowe’s on Christmas Eve, in the faucet repair aisle, while my dad was at home fixing the plumbing under my bathroom sink. It was my third trip to Lowe’s in three days, and I was down to a sink gasket, a #2 screwdriver, and a curtain rod.
I asked the woman standing next to me scouring the same rack what SHE was doing at Lowe’s on Christmas Eve. She informed me, rather matter-of-factly, that all of her family members were in Chicago, so she did not have any Christmas Eve plans except home improvement.
Horrified by the loneliness of that statement, I scurried away, glad to be going home to my Dad. I might be hanging curtain rods on Christmas Eve, but at least I was doing it with family.
When I got back, Dad was just finishing up the plumbing job, which had required him to spend a lot of time on his back under the sink. At 85 years old, this was no small feat. I admired his fortitude, and wondered aloud if I should put the trout in the oven to cook while I jumped into the shower and dressed for the service.
Dad admitted that, actually, he really didn’t want to go anyway. He’d rather take a hike on Christmas Day for something special and just finish up the open jobs that night.
What a relief! My shoulders loosened and I celebrated by taking a little extra time to whip up a rather delicious Hollandaise sauce for the broccoli. The trout browned nicely in the oven and I set the table with the Limoges china from my mother, gold-rimmed stemware from my grandmother, recently gifted silverware from my sister. It was nice to think of all of them being present with us while we sat down to enjoy our meal.
After dinner, I put a homemade crumb-top apple pie in the oven as our intended reward for the evening’s tasks, and we headed upstairs for the curtain rod job.
Which came out beautifully.
So did the pie.
When we sat down together just before midnight to warm pie and cold ice cream, I was glad that we had stayed home instead of rushing to the service. I might’ve pushed it, on my own, driven by that old desire to do it all and then some. But sometimes, I’ve learned, the best way for me to “honor thy Father” — and my own self — is by keeping it simple.
I sent the kids a Merry Christmas text before I went to bed, so as not to intrude upon their Christmas Eve activities with their dad, and fell asleep content, with visions of apple pie, curtain rods, and repaired plumbing dancing in my head.