My daughter is now a grown woman, an elementary school teacher with a house of her own — and a wonderful guy. They’re going to get married in a few months.
When Courtney was 7 years old, I woke up to the most epic Christmas list of all time. It was a little book, made out of construction paper, staples, rafts of glitter — and plenty of thought.
Each page was something that Courtney wanted for Christmas. She printed photos off the Internet to illustrate each wish. Each wish told me a little more about my little girl.
First off, she wanted a new bike. A Specialized Rockhopper mountain bike, but one equipped with a flower-bedecked handlebar basket. She’d glued the basket over the photo of the bike. It was a little out of scale, but it got the message across just fine.
She also wanted a television for her room. This page had a photo of a television, with a crayon drawing of Courtney — I think — watching the television.
“No way, kiddo,” I thought. I didn’t want my kid socked away in her room staring at the TV. I wanted her in the little art studio I’d made her just off from the kitchen.
She also wanted a Tamagotchi electronic pet, new watercolor paints, a new pair of NIKE basketball shoes and a live parrot.
The last page was the best page. It was a real photo of both of us, sitting in my Honda Accord. She colored pink sunglasses over her eyes, but it was her all right. Next to the photo, she wrote — also in pink marker — ROad Tripp!
She got the bike — yeah, I found a flowery basket — art supplies, and that wretched Tamagotchi. She also got a ton of road trips with me.
My best present that Christmas was that wish-list page with the two of us in the car. I don’t remember all the road trips, but I do know we drove the length of the Oregon Coast — south to north — camping, fishing, clamming, eating seafood and hiking along the sand. We took other trips to the Olympic Peninsula, Mount Rainier, San Francisco and the high desert of eastern Oregon.
Courtney sang along to my CD collection as the tires hummed over the endless miles of asphalt.
I haven’t gotten a Christmas list from Courtney for a long time, but I have started making one of my own.
My list is my wishes for the coming year.
This year, I wish good health for everyone. We’ve all gotten a gut-wrenching reminder that health is everything, and we don’t know how much time we’re going to get on this planet. Wake up early. Go to bed late. Follow your passions.
I wish for patience — for myself and everyone else. We’ll never agree on everything, but we can listen, learn, find common ground — and move on.
Finally, I wish for more ROad Tripp. Road trips are the best way to connect with ourselves, our loved ones — and this big, gorgeous world. Road trips always teach us new things. The spirit of discovery fills our hearts and minds. It’s easy to find the beauty in each day.
All we have to do is set a date and get into the car. I’ll see you on down the road.
Before you go, check out Simon Kidston’s great new holiday movie, “Sliding Stars.” Here’s the link: https://kidston.com/films/sliding-stars/