by Karen Scalf Linamen
It was December in California, and we had flown in from Texas to visit our families for the holidays. The days between our arrival and Christmas Eve brimmed with a flurry of last-minute activities.
One evening we all hustled into the car to drive to a Christmas party at the home of family friends. We were a little behind schedule because my mom, sister, and I had gotten home late after spending a long day writing checks, signing charge slips, and bringing hysterical grins of joy to the faces of local merchants at a nearby mall.
My mom looked across the front seat at my dad and said, "Whew! What a busy day! I feel like I haven't seen you in a week!"
My dad grunted, checked the rearview mirror, and changed lanes at something approximating the speed of light.
My mom reached over and twirled a lock of my dad's hair around her finger. "I know! Let's look at each other. For just a minute. In the eyes."
My dad responded this time. He groaned. "Honey, I'm driving."
"Ten seconds. Five! I haven't seen you all day. I need to look into your eyes. Are you ready?"
He shook his head. "I can't look right now. We'll have a wreck!"
"At the next light."
At the speed we were traveling, we hit the next red light in no time. And sure enough, holding hands across the front seat, my parents turned and gazed into each other's eyes. "Hi," my mom said. "Hi," my dad said warmly back.
Then the light changed, the gas pedal hit the floor, and the race was on again. Nothing had changed, and yet everything had changed. Most of all, I was silently moved by what I had witnessed: a small harbor of reconnection in a raging hurricane of activity and distraction.
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