Our Last Christmas

Christmas Eve, 1988.

I decided that now that I had a bonafide partner, who had family issues of his own, it was time for us to host a holiday dinner at our house.

Usually we went to my mother’s friend’s house for holidays.  Ironically, it was her former boss’ wife.  They became close after his death (he’d been shot for his lawyering and spectacularly it is still an open case some 32 years later; my mother was let go from the firm in the financial aftermath of his death).   I suppose she felt a tiny bit obligated to be nice to my mother in the beginning of their friendship, but eventually it became a fully equal relationship.  It was Marilyn’s house we went to for holidays, her daughters who I became close to, and her cottage up north that my mother visited on weekends in the summer.

But my mother was perfectly happy to have a real reason to host her own dinner that year, I think.  She dove into the preparations, getting a real turkey and showing me how to make her version of stuffing.  She made her mother’s famous first course, cranberry sherbet.  I helped with it as much as I could.  My mother reveled in decorating our townhome with all manner of Christmas decor, including her parents’ nativity and enough tinsel on our fake tree to choke a reindeer.  She invited Joe and his mother, and my sister and her fiance.  My brother was still away in the Navy, having just graduated from Basic Training.

Everyone got along, seemed happy and the evening was easy.  Afterwards, while my sister and her fiance cleaned up, Joe quietly took me aside and gave me my present.  I opened up a small box; it contained delicate gold and pearl earrings that took my breath away.  He explained that I needed something to put in the jewelry box that he’d given me for my birthday.   His mother admitted to me that he’d taken quite a while to pick them out.

I just loved him.  I smiled at him and snuggled in, our hands intertwined.  There is a photo of us taken together that night, and the body language between us is amazing; how close we were sitting, how happy we both appear.  I knew that this was the man I would marry.  I knew that we’d always find a way to figure it all out.  He was my knight in shining armor, and I was amazed that I was lucky enough to have him in my life.

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