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My phone rang at 5:30 this morning. It’s been my experience that when stuff like that happens it usually means someone’s either died unexpectedly or is locked up and needs someone to bail them out. Imagine my surprise when the voice on the other end was all cheerful and in good spirits.

It was the voice of my kid.

She just wanted to remind me that she was off to someplace called Crank’s Creek in Kentucky where she and a group of other like minded volunteers from the neighborhood schools are helping out some folks in the hills of Appalachia. Most of what they’ll be doing is in the form of handing out Christmas presents, feeding the needy and bonding with the locals. She wanted to say “goodbye” since she doesn’t think her cell phone will work due to the remote location.

Earlier this week I had to take a day off to get some minor repairs done on my car. A buddy of mine offered to drive me to the shop to pick it once it was done. In return for that favor I offered to pick up the tab for a couple of beers at our local watering hole. I think we hung around until about six or seven.

Something looked strange inside the house. I’d long since given up putting a Christmas tree or hanging any lights but from outside I could see I could see the familiar warm glow. Once I got inside I saw my living room bathed in various strings of multicolored lights. It seems some elf had stopped by while I was gone and wanted to surprise me.

When I called her later and heard her on the phone my eyes welled up and my voice started to crack.

I got her Christmas list the other day. To quote the author, “This is not a WISH list, it’s an idea list.”

I won’t bother you with all the details which includes music by bands that I’ve never heard of but since she’s going on a student exchange program to France next year she wanted some books on Paris and France in general. She also requested some clothes that might be suitable for her trip and in line with French fashion. Again, I quote, “This doesn’t mean clothes with the Eiffel Tower or French expression, wearing that in France may be a bit tacky.

I like to think of myself as a something of a hardened by life kinda guy. Over the years, nothing seems to have come easy. Various health issues and the loss of loved ones has given me a somewhat jaded view on what to expect in the coming years.

At least it used to.

It’s amazing what a few simple gestures by another person can do to restore something inside of you thought was gone.

I live for the years to come, not for the ones that have already passed.

Thank you Anna…

Update

She's doing it again in 2011. She leaves December 16 and returns December 19. I've her asked her to write down her experiences and who knows, maybe we'll get a first hand account in the form of a w/u in the not too distant future.