A Christmas Story
Tuesday, October 13, 2009


When I was a college girl, long, long, long ago, I agreed to go on a date with this very cute boy from my English Lit class. I noticed his cuteness the first day I set my eyes upon him. Not only because of his sun bronzed skin and chestnut hair, but because he strolled into class 15 minutes late with no apology and no intention of slipping in quietly. He saw me scrunched down in the back row and made his way to the very back of the class, bumping his surfer duffle bag into some very annoyed students on his way to find a seat next to the girl with the curly perm and Indian Earth bronzer he'd locked eyes with. 

On our first date, he showed up on my doorstep in a shiny, apple red VW Beetle Bug. After he escorted me all gentlemanly to the passenger side and tucked me into my seat, he made his way to the driver's side and turned the key. 

To this day, every time I think about that split-second of the universe, I laugh to myself, knowing that was the minute my fate was locked forever with this boy, before I even realized he would be mine. 

See, he knew that car wouldn't start. The car hadn't been starting for months. A whiz at cars, he hadn't been able to figure his starter problem out. But, MacGyver that he was, he had found a solution, one that worked for him.

With an easy smile, he said, "Be right back." He reached into the back and grabbed a long screwdriver, jumped out of the car, came over to the other side and nimbly bent over backwards in an arch, displaying his righteous gymnastic abilities, (a boy gymnast all through high school) touching that screwdriver to something in the engine in the back of that VW bug. 

The car roared to life. He jumped in and we were on our way. For moments and days and months and years. For Happily Ever After. For always.

That first moment with him, I witnessed what I came to know as truth over the years. This man would always be able to make it right every time, with grace and charm and an easy affability. He would fix cars, appliances, situations, relationships, our babies tears, problems, finances, people, and my heart, most importantly my heart, always righting it, always bringing it back from despair and hurt and at times brokenness over the years. He has fixed me up, held my hand always going before me, smoothing the path of all the ruts and dips and holes, as we travel down this lifelong journey together, he and I. 

He keeps me seeing the big picture when my view gets tunneled and I can only focus on what is in front of me. He takes my face in his hands and spreads his hand over the bounty of our life, making me understand that what we have before us is our greatest triumph and treasure and in the moment, in every moment we must honor that and live our life to the fullest. 

He makes me laugh when I need it most and he does not allow me to take myself or my world too seriously. 

He lets these girls, these magnificent beings we created, to wrap themselves around his finger and he always puts down what he's doing when they want to swim or bike or just talk without hesitation, something I need to do more of.

He finds our fun. He creates our joy. Our life has been filled to the brim with parties and laughter and vacations and delight and magic, all because of him.

And he knows many things about me-all my secrets I've tried to tuck away from view. He knows that I am a crier of vast proportions. He knows that I hate to cook and try very hard not to, every chance I can get. He knows that sometimes I wear my jammies all day. He knows that without my makeup I definitely do not look the same. He knows that I have a sickness for shoes and clothes. He knows that if I don't get enough sleep, I rage against anything and everyone in my path. He knows that I am a little less of the tight muscled warrior I once was, that I am softer around the edges these days. He knows that in the morning my hair looks like I have been electrocuted. He knows I'm harshly judgmental of pretty much everything. 

And he knows that I am a writer. Even though I am yet to be published, I am a writer. In fact, he was the one who told me to follow my dream. He was the one who declared me a writer, long before I could say the word out loud. 

He knows all these things and he chooses to love me and I am grateful, every day, for that blessing.

This man has always been a wise watcher of our money. He and I, on the cusp of getting married, both had bank accounts worth bragging about. 

His had always been that way, mine never, except for that short blip in time. 

My small savings was a purposeful effort. I'd been scrimping and saving for a year. Our wedding was primarily funded by us. My parents had their hands full with the cost of the upkeep of seven children, daunting in itself, without adding big weddings to the fray. 

And our wedding was big. 

Over 300 guests, with food and booze and music and dancing aplenty. A bacchanalia of fun, that day. But, it cost us. It cost us our little bank stockpiles and then some- most of our wedding gift cash. 

We came home from our honeymoon, sunburned, happy and broke. 

My hubby sat down at our desk and counted up the remnants of our savings. He even added in the few dollars in our wallet and the coins in my change purse. We had $773.37- our life's fortune as newlyweds.

I still have that sticky note where he added up our riches and I still remember how he laid his head upon the wood of that desk, so mired in devastation over our financial worth.

Our first Christmas together, we were still trying to recover and make our way back to financial fulfillment. He was, as usual, more determined than me to spend wisely and frugally with our little pile of money. 

I was just excited about Christmas, our first Christmas together. 

One night after we'd both gotten home from work, we set out to get our Christmas tree, something I'd been talking about for weeks. I couldn't wait to start our own traditions in this, the beginning of our life together. 

We stopped at the Christmas tree lot down the street from our apartment and as soon as my Hubby noticed the prices, he took my hand and steered me towards the car. This Christmas tree lot was definitely the rip-off lot. 40 bucks for a tree? Who in their right mind would spend 40 bucks on a tree that would be dead in a few weeks?

We realized, after traversing from one lot to the other throughout the town, that not only was 40 bucks a fair price, but 40 bucks was going to get us a Charlie Brown Christmas tree and not much else.

After looking all night for a deal, my Hubby turned to me and tried to let me down easy. It didn't look like a Christmas tree would be in the budget this year. 

I was devastated. No Christmas tree -the magic of Christmas dissolving before my eyes.

I tried to act like an adult. I tried to be an understanding newlywed wife, but I couldn't help it, I cried. I cried like a baby and in between my desperate sobs, I let him know how devastating it was to have no Christmas tree on our first Christmas together. He listened well and good and then he dried my tears and said he had an idea. 

The next day we drove out in our old diesel, the one we nicknamed "the smoker", scouring the town, until My Hubby stopped at the edge of a scrubby Florida forest. He commanded me to be the lookout as he took his axe and crept into the woods. 

What seemed like an eternity later, he appeared out of the overgrowth, dragging a towering Florida pine. He threw it in our car and we sped away. 

Even though I am generally against the pilfering of trees from forests, I was out of my mind in childlike delight over the idea of my very own Christmas tree. 

We dragged it into our tiny apartment and My Hubby propped it up in the corner. Seeing it in the setting of my little home, my heart sank. It looked nothing like a Christmas tree. It was too skinny, the needles were all wrong and it was leaning to one side. It had a scrubby look to it as if it were the poor, starving cousin of the magestic Frasier Fir. Its branches were limp and the whole tree was slumped over as if the tree itself knew what a disappointment he was, trying his sad best to masquerade as a Christmas tree. 

I shook off my dejection, not wanting to disappoint the Hubby. After all, a Christmas tree was all in the twinkling lights and the decoration. I could certainly dress up this shabby, sad cousin into something spectacular. 

I carefully unwrapped the first decoration. In our excitement, we'd gone to the budget store and bought a handful of discounted, sweet little ornaments that still hold court on our tree every year.

I took that little ornament and stepped to the tree, our first ornament on our first tree. My hubby watched and as I bent the tree hook and placed it on its limb, the branch immediately drooped, too spindly to even support a cheap, dimestore ornament. And as the branch sank like Obama's universal health plan, a nest of spiders ran out of the tree, down the branch, up my arm and then fled in different directions, scurrying over my body.

I felt those spiders tickly little legs crawling over me all night as I wept into my pillow, my Christmas dreams dashed. My Hubby disposed of the tree while I crawled into bed, devastated.

We didn't speak of it again. I went about my business trying to be brave about a Christmas with no Christmas tree. 

Two nights later he came home, dragging in the fattest, most beautiful Frasier Fir I'd ever seen. I knew it cost him the big bucks. I knew it hurt him to shell out those dollars when we really didn't have the budget for splurges like that. And I knew he knew what a Christmas tree would mean to me.

With our sparse little ornaments barely making a dent in that massive tree, our twinkly lights and the little stick man the Hubby made out of wire, it was the most beautiful Christmas tree of all times.

This man of mine. It was just the beginning of a lifetime of moments filled with sparkly lights and surprises and him fixing it for me, always trying to make my life shine. 

This week has been a busy one. We have celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary, our dating anniversary happened to be two days later, 28 years of togetherness, and now today, a birthday. We capped it all off last night, by going to see, U2, that's right U2 for the third time in a month! Grand times, indeed!

Happy Birthday Hubby! Today and every day, you make my life shine like the Christmas of that first year. 

Post Edit: I had this one all set to go for the morning of his birthday. I was just getting ready to scan a whole load of pictures of him all young with lots of hair and skinny as a rail in his OP shorts when we had one of our wonderful power burps, as I like to call them. Teco, (that's right, I'm naming names) our electric company makes sure we have a power outage at least 4-5 times a week. It's only seconds long, but long enough to upset every bit of technology I have in my house. 

I have a theory. I'm thinking that every time there's a blip in electricity, it saves them thousands of dollars. I think they're purposefully having these tiny outages, in the hopes people won't notice or mind, since they're probably still charging us for that second of electricity thereby keeping the top executives fat and happy with all the extra cash they're rooking out of us. Just my angry opinion.

And so, just as I was getting ready to scan, some Teco employee, unplugged the power plant for a millisecond and in that freakin millisecond, the outage made my scanner and printer go haywire and now, neither of them are working. Man, I hate Teco.

My Hubby, the fixer, has been working to get it fixed for me, but so far Teco has screwed us, again. He promises to work on it tonight in between bringing home our bacon and frying it up in the pan. Until then, my pictures will be limited. Check back soon for old pictures. The fixer always makes it right, that I can always count on. 
 
Today's Definite Download: Our song-Santana's "Europa." Such a beautiful, romantic song by a guitar master. The first time The Hubby made me dinner, (a delectable chicken, capers, cream, lemon pasta dish. I should have realized right then I needed to marry this guy.) he was playing this album and once this song came on, he set down his cooking spoons and danced me around his kitchen. In that tiny kitchen, it became our song for forevermore. 
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1 comment:

ProudSister said...

Loved this. That Christmas story is like a movie. He is the best, you're a lucky girl. Fun & adventure follow Bill everywhere and I'm so lucky to have him as my brother, even if he is technically my brother-in-law.

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