Just before Thanksgiving 2000, Kim and I decided to show our parents the house we were considering buying just a few blocks away from our current house.
We were on dial-up then and when Maggie, then four would hear the familiar modem connection and handshake she would end up in my office asking “Whatcha doin?”
“I’m going to MapQuest to draw a map and get directions for mamma and pappa.”
“What’s the purple line?” she wanted to know.
“That’s the path you stay on to get from here to there.”
Kim dropped off the directions at her parents house on the way to work and that night she and I hosted my parents for dinner. Afterwards I put Maggie and Elena in their child seats and headed over to the house we were looking at.
Our realtor Jesse was already there opening up the house and turning on lights. Kim’s parents were next. By the time Kim arrived with my parents, our daughters were running and playing in the front yard. Jesse saw the look on Kim’s face and he knew the sale had been made. A mom, beaming at her children playing in their own front yard – surrounded by their four grandparents.
After a month of meetings and inspections and negotiations and a ream or so of paperwork, the house was nearly ours.
I drove over to do the final walk through with the sellers agent. As we came out the front door, a woman walking up the street with a covered dish hollerred across “are you our new neighbor?”
“He is,” the realtor answered pointing at me.
“Tonight’s the night of the block’s progressive dinner c’mon and meet everyone.”
And so I did.
I returned home an hour later, finally as excited by our move as Kim had been for the last month.
We closed on the house December 22nd but Maggie had the look of a very worried four year old. “What if Santa can’t find us in our new house?” she asked.
“We won’t be in our new house yet. We’re having Christmas here this year.”
“But what about next year?” she pressed. “He’ll come here and we won’t be here.”
Now it might have been Maggie or it might have been me, but one of us remembered the purple paths that MapQuest can make and the printer can print. We created directions for Santa from our current house to our new house.
Maggie solemnly left the note for Santa – the begin and end were clearly marked … and the optimal path from here to there was explained so simply that even a man who spends most of his time with elves and reindeer could understand.
Christmas morning came with the overabundance that our children, the only grandchildren on both sides, had come to know.
We packed up the car to head to Kim’s parents house for Christmas dinner. Kim suggested we stop at the new house along the way. Elena at a year and a half remained bundled up in the warm car with Kim while Maggie and I trudged up the snowy walk and opened the front door.
It was cold inside, we could almost see our breaths.
But there, by the fireplace, were two small gifts. One labeled Maggie and one labeled Elena. And under Maggie’s gift was the neatly folded map with a check mark next to the purple path and the handwritten response