The Babe and I made a loosely woven plan to make this home look festive. His part in it begins with he-man stuff; getting the boxes upstairs from the basement. I will decide to change stuff up from the other Christmases in this home. Buying a new tree last year was a great idea. It is “ours,” and only our memories will reflect in it. Sometimes, I get a hung up on the losses our family had around Christmas time. My dad died on December 7, 1988. That Christmas was one for the ages. It was the first holiday without him. I hated it. Mom had my Frankie sit at the head of the table where Dad always sat. He deserved to sit where his best friend sat for his whole seventeen years of life.
Flash back further, and on December 24, 1963, when I was twelve years old, our Grandpa died of a massive heart attack. Christmas Eve! I’ll never forget it. We weren’t with mom’s family, one of my little brothers was sick so we stayed home. Between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. The phone calls. Mom yelling at us to pray. Scrambling to get our rosaries. My brother and I walked to Church for our Midnight Mass duties; him an altar boy, me in the choir. It was hard to sing that night. I just wanted to cry.
Our family never gathered at Grandma and Grandpa’s house again. We didn’t get to stay with Grandma anymore; she learned to drive at fifty-nine and got a job. Later, our Aunt Judy had a gathering, but my mom and we didn’t go. The other siblings had their in-laws over. It always felt empty after that.
And then, a Christmas eve in 1996, saw the Babe come to my house with dinner fixings. He handed me a small bud vase. “Here, this is for you.” He walked away . I felt something metal on the ribbon. It was a ring. My daughter and her boyfriend grabbed my hands and silently squealed with excitement. I went into the kitchen.
“What is this?” I said.
“Would you marry me?”
“It would be an honor to be your wife.”
And it still is. And forever will be. We are so lucky to find each other in this crazy world. If none of the dreams I’ve ever entertained come true, the one of having someone truly love me has come true. That is what I choose to celebrate this Christmas and every single one we have left together. It is the best gift in the world, and I cherish it. I once told Dan’s mom, “Every day is Christmas with Dan.” She smiled. It’s still true today.
Yes, we disagree on things. We’ve always asked each other, “Is it really worth fighting about?” Nothing is at this point in life. We save it for important stuff. And nothing is that important to have stress in your life. We complement each other. We support each other.
We laugh a lot. We need that now and always. Find things to laugh about. Free up your hearts for love. We have both learned to let each other in. And that is so worth it. It took a long time, but it was worth the ride. Trust is hard, and we must earn it. I trust in him. He trusts in me. The best gift ever opened with our eyes each morning.
I thank you for reading. Hope to see you again tomorrow. It’s a nice, sunny day at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. Make the most of it. Make the best of it. Be Kind. Be Thoughtful. Be Courteous. Be the one who makes someone else smile in their heart. Have a beautiful day.