As I raced past the living room into the kitchen with an armful of trash, I overheard H urging Murielle, “Show Mom the clothes we bought for you.”

“I will, in a minute,” she responded, swallowing the last bite of a snack.

After scouring store racks, they’d returned home from shopping all day for her Christmas dress while I stayed behind in my pajamas, curling ribbon around presents wrapped shiny and red. The bed was strewn with a battlefield of scissors, tape, and hints to the contents inside each box. I was in the middle of cleaning it up when she came in to the room revealing the bounty.

I don’t remember the first year it happened but I can recall each dress. It’s a tradition for H to take Murielle shopping for her Christmas outfit. Something he watched his Dad do with his sister while growing up.

He almost forgot about it this year in a swirl of circumstance until I reminded him about in the car on the way home from seeing the Hobbit.

She hadn’t forgotten. That’s what she told us from the backseat of the car when I mentioned it. Her heart was already anticipating the outing.

While hunkering over the bed gathering fragments of wrapping frenzy, my girl stood beside me holding a stack of folded clothes on top of a shoe box like a ring bearer at a wedding. Unfolding each article carefully, she hung an  emerald green skirt from two fingers on each hand like clothes pins on her waistline while rocking in a half circle, showing it off.

When she opened the cardboard box and pulled out the suede wedge booty, I laughed and said, “You obviously found an outfit to go with those shoes.”

We’re suckers for a shoe that looks like an art piece. Turns out that wasn’t the case, the shoes were an addendum to the outfit. She’s worn them around the house every day since.

As I flipped through an old scrapbook later that night, a second grade photo from a school Christmas program caught my eye and stuck there for more than a minute.  She was wearing one of the dresses from their father-daughter tradition, sleeveless pink satin to the tops of her clunky black patents; a white shawl cascading over bare shoulders.

That snapshot pried the lid off a collection of memories; each year and all of those beautiful dresses — blue velvet, red satin, and the first pair of shoes from the women’s department. All this time, I thought I was waiting for her to grow up and the woman I hoped she would become is standing right in front of me.

The same way God stands at the door and knocks. (Rev. 3:20) When we’re paying attention, we’ll recognize the sound of his rap, open the door and welcome him into all the rooms of our house. We’ll sit down, eat together and he’ll finish our sentences. Like a date with your Father you anticipate but don’t expect.

Looking back, you’ll realize the journey is glorious and unbelievable all at the same time.

Linking with Tuesdays Unwrapped, Tell His Story and Imperfect Prose.