We slowed our pace during that last week of Mike’s vacation, which made it more relaxing than the entire trip. I took my time unpacking and cleaning the inside of the camper, while he scrubbed the dirt and bugs off the outside, including the truck. We picked up our mail, left a roll of film to be developed, and transferred funds to cover the cost of his new rifle.
I printed, packed and shipped one small order that was in the post office box. The order pleased me, yet I spent the rest of the week disappointed that there weren’t more. Was my dream of a successful home business—some means of earning income yet allowing the flexibility to care for Mike when needed—nothing more than a fantasy? Would it ever come true or was I merely too impatient? I found solace by reminding myself of what my research had shown: October, November and December customarily did not bring wholesale orders for gift items. That market was in August of each year, something I had acknowledged and acted upon in July. And something that, fortunately, resulted in a few orders that very first year. It was a start, but dare I consider it successful?
The following Monday was a holiday—Columbus Day. Mike went back to work on Tuesday. Our usual hum-drum daily routines reappeared, along with the shorter, wet and windy days of autumn. My folks came to our house for Thanksgiving dinner, which I was proud to prepare and serve.
Christmas Eve we spent at my folks’ house with my younger brother and my sister and their families. Following the traditional ham dinner, Mom insisted that we move to the living room for coffee, and open our gifts. As she went to the kitchen to prepare a fresh pot, I brought out the silver-plated serving tray she always used for such occasions, and loaded it with china cups and saucers, cream & sugar, napkins, spoons and placed it on the coffee table in the living room. Mom came behind me with her silver serving pot in one hand and a plate of homemade holiday goodies in the other.
When the coffee and cookies had been served, Mom started passing out the presents, beginning with me and Mike. As she made her trips to the tree and back, I glanced at the tag on ours. "To Helen and Mike," it read.
I nudged Mike’s arm and angled the tag so he could see it. He nodded and winked, which let me know that he understood the sharp contrast to all the years before, when gift tags for us just said, "To Helen." That particular holiday moment would live on in my mind.
We spent Christmas Day quietly at home. I fixed waffles, bacon, eggs, juice and coffee for breakfast, which we took our time enjoying. While Mike watched television, I sorted through the stack of Christmas cards we’d received, rereading the messages written inside. I stopped at length to contemplate what my friend Mally had written: "We started a new business this year, one we can run from our home. It’s working out beautifully, and we are very excited about it. Can’t wait to tell you more!"
And I couldn’t wait to find out.