Once upon a time in a small town in California, my wife and I were shopping at our local Costco. Our youngest child was about to turn two months old and he was sleeping in the shopping cart while my wife strolled through the Christmas section. "Come here, honey," she said with puppy dog eyes, "I have something to show you."
My first thought was, what the heck...it's August and Christmas is already on display. My wife had other thoughts. She was dreaming of a white Christmas and she was about to ask me to make her fairy tale come true. She pulled a crystal ball off the shelve, wound it up and shook it. "Look," she said while she held out her dreams in her hands. "There's a family inside with two boys, a girl and a dog." The snow was swirling while the music played "I'll Be Home For Christmas." She paused. I stared inside at the beautiful Christmas scene. Then I put two crystal balls in the cart, one for her dad and one for our family. Nobody knew about our spur-of-the-moment decision to go to Iowa for Christmas. We kept it a secret, even from our own children, for 90 days, a new world record for this Mulligan. We arrived two days before Christmas in the middle of a snow storm, rented a car and maneuvered through the vehicles that were slipping and sliding all over the icy I-80 on the one hundred mile stretch from Des Moines to Williamsburg.
Last night the original crystal ball from Christmas of 1995 sat on the dining room table at my wife's sisters home. I picked it up, wound it, shook it and stared into it while the music played. Our second globe shattered years earlier and only the base remained. The crystal globe magnified the family, making them appear larger than life. One of my nieces pulled out a couple of pictures from that fairy tale Christmas and presented them to my family. All the cousins were together at grandpa's house sitting on the couch. They are full-grown now and together again.
When members are pushing shopping carts through the Christmas section in August at our brand new Costco in Coralville and ask me why I'm here, I smile. My life is a story book. Many chapters are yet to be written. I promise to live happily ever after, one fairy tale page at a time. Yes, I'm home for Christmas. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. -the end...or, is it the beginning?