Today is all about one of those presents that you never knew you needed.
But after someone gives it to you and you open it? You wonder how you ever lived without it.
It’s actually Denton’s (my oldest son’s) entry into the handmade present situation.
The second generation is now making handmade presents, too.
I think they’ve watched all of us with our dramatic presentations and speeches and stories through the years and decided that handmade presents are where it’s at and started making their own.
And like all good handmade presents—it starts with a story (of course it does).
A story that begins just like this.
I’ve never met a happily-ever-after I didn’t like.
I can’t help it.
I’m all about a movie where everyone walks off into the sunset together.
You know—like the one about the girl who owns a coffee shop that she’s poured her heart into in a town where everyone drinks coffee and hangs out and reads the newspaper together. But tragedy strikes and she’s about to lose the coffee shop because the economy has taken a turn for the worse and she tries to hide her sadness by telling everyone she’s really okay. It looks like all is lost. It looks like there’s no more coffee shop. It looks like cappuccinos and frappuccinos and whipped cream are a thing of the past. Then suddenly a New York playwright shows up in town on a white horse, looking for inspiration and soul-saving and he drinks her coffee and writes a play and falls in love with her and saves her shop.
Or where the girl meets the guy and he’s a famous cooking personality and he has his own show and she doesn’t really know how to cook and she finds him overbearing and obnoxious and thinks he knows everything about cooking (which he does of course because he’s a famous chef) and she wants nothing to do with him even though she has to promote him because it’s part of her job. And along the way, she notices that he has amazing hair and discovers that underneath all that bravado is an incredible man who’s just lost his way a little.
Just a little.
And she falls in love with him.
And he falls in love right back.
A happily ever after just like that.
That’s how I pictured love.
That’s how I thought it should be. You know—red roses that show up unexpectedly and poems and songs composed in your honor and sparkling stars in the sky and trails of petals everywhere….
Fireworks every day.
Just like in the movies.
And so when I got married to an incredible man—I waited for all the romance to show up.
And occasionally it did.
Over the years there have been some flowers and singing in the car together and once I heard a version of “Roses Are Red” when I made him potato salad and sometimes across a crowded room those twinkling brown eyes make my heart beat faster and I see sparkles.
But along the way you know what I’ve discovered?
You know what they never really talk about in all the romance movies?
It’s that sometimes the happily-ever-after isn’t in the grand gestures and proclaiming your love across the Grand Canyon or on the big screen at the football game….
….sometimes love is in the everyday.
In the smallest of gestures.
In the littlest of moments.
And sometimes when you least expect it a little piece of happily-ever-after shows up.
Several years ago when we still lived in Kentucky I was traveling home on my 1700th trip promoting one of the books and I was tired and weary and worn and trying valiantly not to cry as I looked up and saw a mile marker that told me there were still 27 miles to the Kentucky border.
I just wanted to be home.
I just wanted to see my family.
Suddenly my phone rang and my husband’s voice came over the car.
“I was just checking on you,” he said. “How close are you?”
At the sound of his voice, I started crying.
I told him I was worn out.
I told him I just wanted to be there instead of here.
I told him I didn’t want to smile one more smile or start one more conversation or talk one more word. He listened to me quietly as my frustration and sadness and worn-outness poured out of me. He listened to my complaints. He listened to my tears.
And then when I was finished?
He didn’t say a word.
Instead, he sang to me. He sang songs about my name and old country songs and new praise songs and songs about country roads and songs that made me laugh and giggle and nod and sing along.
Every. Single. Mile.
He and his guitar sang me home on that long ago night.
I’ve told this story to my children so many times.
Most of the time it’s accompanied by eye rolls and just between us—I’m not even sure if they understand the point of the tale or how special that moment was to me.
Most of the time I’m not even sure they were listening.
But they were.
Because on Christmas morning Denton stood up and made a presentation of his handmade gift—just like all his aunts and uncles and parents before him. He handed me my phone and told me to go to my music library and look at my playlists.
And there it was.
An entire list of songs Denton had put together with my husband. Denton taped my husband singing so many of the songs he sang to me on that long ago night. But this time? My husband sang his part—the melody or the harmony or whichever part my husband sings when we sing together—so I could sing my part in the car when he wasn’t there to sing with me.
I pressed play on the phone and heard his voice and tears streamed down my face as I listened.
It was amazing.
My very own sing-along handmade present.
I’m so incredibly in awe of a son who listened to my stories and thought up a present like this.
I’m so thankful for a husband who sings my songs.
And I’m so grateful for a playlist that understood the assignment…
….and showed up with a happily ever after. 🙂
PS If you want to hear my favorite song on the playlist I uploaded it here.
It’s the song I was named after, “Kari Waits For Me.”