Friday, December 24, 2004

Happy Happy, Joy Joy 

A long day of present-wrapping in anticipation of tomorrow's umpteenth annual tree-side congegation at the in-laws. Though the population in attendance has grown over the years, the occasion will likely remain the same. Expect reports of a silly present-passing game, two hours of ceremonious presentation and all-eyes-upon-me gift-opening, copious brown supermarket bags of folded wrapping paper, some sort of ham, waffles.

Tonight, though, a nice supper: candles, wine glasses, red tablecloth and all. Christmas carols played softly, from iPod to radio, as we said the shabbat blessings; the wine was really grape juice, more palatable for the pregnant and the toddler both.

But the true meaning of Christmas Eve, for us, is personal, not religious.

Nine years ago tonight, sans reservation, I went out with this girl I'd been living with since long before we dropped out of college together. After a cold half hour in a half-broken car we stumbled into Keene, and a now-defunct dark-lit fancy restaurant. It was the only place we could find on Christmas Eve.

We shared a plate of warm gingerbread and a glass of red wine; I asked for her hand in marriage.

She said yes.

Back home, her parents reception was lukewarm, obligatory, tired, intent as they were on finishing their present-wrapping and getting the heck to bed. We kissed goodnight, snuggled for a while by the soapstone stove, eventually

Eventually, she went up to her bedroom, where I wasn't allowed. As I had in the past, I played solitaire 'til two and crashed in the sewing room on the pull-out bed.

Next morning, while pancakes burned and Darcie's siblings waited under the tree, I soiled the sheets, sick from the gingerbread. My first Christmas, and hardly an auspicious beginning.

Since then, a whirlwind of years have passed. I've gone from being the newbie to the old pro, as we welcomed first Josh's partner Clay, oft joined at table and hearth by Father Fred and Brother Justin, and then Matt, now in his first year as Husband to ex-Winter Carnival Queen Alicia. In the past two years we've taken on new roles, moving from daughter to Mommy, from Patty to Grandma, as Willow stretches the comfort zone, making tighter relations of us all.

As the family grows, we grow together. The tree still towers over the widening girth of the family giving circle, but the ornaments have grown familiar, the faces comfortable. I'm a Jew at his family Christmas, and I love it.

But no gingerbread for me, thanks.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:45 PM |

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