A bride’s first Christmas
December 20, 2010
It was five days before Christmas. We’d bought our first Christmas tree for our Rodney Street apartment and had decorated it with newly purchased ornaments. But the only presents under our tree were the few that I’d purchased and wrapped. I couldn’t understand why there was none for me. I distinctly remember handing Ray the bright advertising inserts from Sunday’s paper, with some circled items to lead him in the right direction.
After dinner each night, we plugged the tree lights in and I would do the countdown. “Gosh, it’s only four days until Christmas.” With a non-committal husbandly grunt of acknowledgment from behind the newspaper, he’d cryptically comment, “Yep. It sure is.”
The next night, the routine repeated itself, until in desperation, I decided to stop speaking. He asked, “What’s the matter?”
I responded the same way every woman responds. “Nothing,” I sniffed, and turned away. We had only been married four months but I felt, like most wives do, that he should KNOW what I am thinking without having to tell him.
Now, every man realizes instinctively that when his wife hesitates, and uses only that single word, “Nothing,” it IS something. They don’t tear up for nothing, but we were newlyweds, so I figured husbands don’t comprehend that until later on in married life, if ever. Besides, he was a Midwestern, logical, country boy and I was an Easterner with a big city attitude.
“You’re probably looking for your present,” he guessed. “I kept it in the trunk of our car so you wouldn’t peek ahead of time. If it matters that much to you, I’ll go get it. Be right back,” he said, rushing out the door to our car parked on the snowy street out front.
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Peeking through the second floor curtains, I watched him lift the trunk lid and moving a blanket over to extract a small, wrapped box, about 6 inches square from underneath it, he’d replaced the blanket before closing the trunk.
“What could be in that box?” I wondered. “There wasn’t anything that size that I had circled, or hinted at.” Quickly, I dropped the curtain and nonchalantly resumed my place on the couch.
Minutes later, a blast of December-cold air hit my shoulders as he opened and closed the front door behind him. “Here it is. You can shake it if you want, but don’t open it yet. Hope you like it.”
Gleefully, I accepted the beautifully wrapped box from his cold, masculine hands. It had a red, silk bow on top. I knew that some store saleslady must have wrapped it for him, as it didn’t match the wrapping paper I’d left on the kitchen table. It didn’t make any noise when I shook it. I sniffed it. It didn’t have any identifiable smell, so it wasn’t cosmetics or perfume. It had some weight to it so it wasn’t just an empty box to fool me.
What is it?” I asked.
“You’ll just have to wait until Christmas,” he answered.
“Our family always opened our presents on Christmas Eve,” I suggested, smugly.
“We never did. We always waited until Christmas morning, but guess we can do it your way, if you want,” he replied, giving me a hug, as we headed off to bed.
Christmas Eve arrived. I’d set two of our small, crystal goblets that we’d received as wedding gifts onto the coffee table, next to a silver candy dish filled with my homemade fudge. Beside it was an unopened bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream. My plan was to toast each other our first Christmas, hoping there would be many future Christmases when we could do the same. It would signal the start of our very own family tradition.
Finally, I’d get to open THE BOX! Ray handed the present to me, saying with a straight face, “Hope you won’t be disappointed,” and headed out of the room.
“I won’t be,” I giggled, tearing at the paper, and savagely breaking the ribbon. Cautiously I lifted the lid and peaked inside, pulling the gift out. It was a bean bag ashtray. A little metal, round ashtray attached to a small, fabric cushion filled with dried beans. An ashtray! And I didn’t even smoke!
Ray re-entered the room, carrying three, wrapped presents. Grinning, he handed them to me. The biggest one contained a lovely, light blue robe. The second held a matching nightgown, and the third held matching slippers … .and they were all the right size!
“How wonderful. You picked the perfect things. I love them all and blue is my favorite color,” I gushed.
“I know,” he responded soberly, picking up the bottle to fill our goblets before handing one to me.
“He knew. He knew. Guess there’s hope for us after all,” I said silently, accepting the full glass goblet. We lifted our glasses to toast each other on this bride’s first Christmas.