122 Days Later
Good thing we had the Peter D. Tracker in high gear, as his flight landed 27 minutes early. Given that he refuses to bring anything other than a backpack, he generally flies through customs and is in the arrivals area in Dulles in no time.
He was not expecting me. I swore up and down I would not pick him up, in order to throw him off my trail. Meanwhile, back in October, I secured Dr. Salty Dog to come over at o'dark thirty so the kids would not be alone while I made the trek to the airport. As IF I'd let him rely on a taxi to get him home after 122 days away (but we did NOT count...well, the kids didn't).
I hid behind a pillar the minute his flight was said to be in customs. Within minutes, he came out of those double doors and looked right at me, only to look away. I stepped out, he looked back in my direction...and, oh, the waterworks that would have started had we both not been utterly exhausted and in a not-so-public place.
So, after 4 months of ups and downs, crankiness and utter joy, the kids being saints...and the kids being kids, Peter arrived safe and sound. And, I have to say, the timing was impeccable.
Just last week, I was berating myself for not having our holiday cards ready, for being behind on Christmas (not totally, just a bit), for not having completely renovated the house while he was gone, for my crankiness (okay, that I earned), for everything. Then, over the past few days, it really hit me:
Forget the gifts. Forget everything else. Our little family is together for Christmas and especially this year, after Peter survived another 4 months in a war zone, that's ALL that matters. Not the perfect tree, gorgeously wrapped gifts or a table groaning with Christmas treats. Nothing else matters but that we are together, safe and sound as a family. Everything else is irrelevant.
We are so grateful to simply be together as a family at long last...truly the most important gift.