A couple of weeks ago, my mom invited me and my sisters to a Christmas Stroll in a town two hours from me, a half-hour from them. I immediately said yes. I’ve always wanted to stop and explore the historic downtown area of the town I have so often driven straight through on the way to my parents’ house. Plus, with Christmas right around the corner, I knew there would be some prime shopping opportunities available to me. I put the date in my planner and forgot about it. Then as the weekend approached, my mom called and left a message telling me the stroll was off.

Now, normally I wouldn’t have thought much of it. I’d have been a bit disappointed, of course, but would have looked at the bright side of not having to spend four hours of a Saturday in the car. I would have called to make sure there was nothing wrong and used my fabulous erasable pen to delete the entry from my planner, relishing the empty space there. Not this time. This time, I was disappointed, yes, but also hurt and huffy. I took it personally and got rather worked up about it. To make a long story short, I called the middle sister and complained and whined for quite some time even knowing she had more important things to do than listen to my discontent, I browbeat my poor mom into going, and I insisted that my youngest sister go even though she had already made other plans. This outing was important enough to me to set aside niceties and the good manners my mom raised me to have. I didn’t realize why until after.

Photo from Huntingburg Historic 4th Street.

Story wasn’t with me that Saturday. I rarely see my family without her. She is usually the center of my schedule, and I try to make sure that she gets good quality time with my family — during which she is also usually the center of whatever outing we have planned. We walk at her pace; we talk about subjects that are acceptable for her young ears; we go where she wants to go; and we make sure she is entertained and having fun. This time, she wasn’t there. And I liked it. No, more than that, I cherished it.

I suppose I must have known that would be the case, and that’s why this outing was so important to me. And it was perfect. We strolled and shopped while chatting and laughing. We took candy from strangers, and Mom had “a vision.” We waved at Santa and wondered whether the carriage horses were bored out of their minds. But mostly, we were just together — without Story.

I thought of her and commented on things she would have enjoyed, but I was glad she wasn’t there. We had no restrictions on conversation, we could spend as much time as we wanted in a single shop, and we were simply carefree for a few hours. Mostly though, I was able to set my mom mantle aside and luxuriate in the comfort of being a sister and daughter. And it felt wonderful! Sometimes a mom just needs her womenfolk.