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As a light rain began to fall, Tina and Angie ducked into an Antique store just as the rain began to drip off of them. Mother and daughter laughed as they shook the water from their hair. They knew this was California’s version of bad weather for Christmas. They had been shopping all day picking up last minute items and spending their annual Mother – Daughter Christmas Eve time together. They had been doing this ritual since Angie was very young, but this year it took on special significance. Tina had been absent for most of the important celebrations over the last few years due to the divorce. Bette’s breakdown last year had left the future of their relationship up in the air, even though Tina was making efforts at a reconciliation. Christmas last year was a sad casualty of that breakdown as it happened just before Christmas. But now was different, Bette and Tina were solidly a couple living in the same home, a family reunited. Today was a way to connect, renew this ritual and share in the finding of the perfect gift for Bette. A little know secret about Bette was a sentimental side to her personality. Over the years, Tina would pick out special little gifts that would hold significance, several ornaments, a Christmas box that now held pictures of Christmas’ past, a decoration that could sit on the mantle all gifts that Bette cherished. Angie had said during their hunt, that Bette had not put out any of those items while Tina was gone. Angie said sadly that Bette would take them in her room on Christmas Eve and the next morning Bette would have puffy eyes from the obvious crying. This year was different. All the gifts had been carefully placed around the house and on the tree by Bette herself. Both Angie and Tina had offered to help. They got a firm no, so they sat with cocoa and watched her thoughtfully place each item around the house. As both women collected themself, the storekeeper appeared out of nowhere.
“Don’t worry,” she said smiling as it was obvious why neither had moved from the front entry. “It’s only water.”