An observational short story/essay about falling in love at Christmas
|The Naivety Scene
In your whole life you should ever be so lucky as to fall in love with someone over the holidays. Its a tired old cliché that some people – be they male or female – take on a new significant other from December 1 through February 15th just to cash in on the romantic holidays. This is simply not true. A true artisan of the heart can milk you for gifts and presents in late July just as well as they can in the December cold. In fact, it seems that suckering someone over the snow cone you’re sharing at an outdoor concert in the park or at a ball game is far less suspect then the kiss under the mistletoe they’re dangling over your head.
Just the same, you should count your blessings (instead of sheep...thanks Bing) if you have a new love at Christmas. Not that there is anything wrong with “old” love at Christmas time but newfound, flourishing romance with a backdrop of colored lights and the smell of Christmas trees, familiar music, and images of George Bailey and Mary Hatch in your head when you kiss...that alone can make you damn near ready to hum “Buffalo Gals won’t you come out tonight”... that kind of thing only seems to happen when you don’t know someone all that well. Your curiosity of the heart feels like that same great anticipation that sent your chest into quivers at age 6, tossing and turning in bed on Christmas Eve, wondering what kind of loot Saint Nick was going to leave you. New love at Christmas taps in on that same joyous naivety and now, all grown up, you find you get the same doubts about love as you did about the existence of Santa Claus at Age 6 or 7. But you cast the doubt aside for another season and revel in the fun of it all. Meeting someone new and beautiful and exciting is like waking up to find out school is closed and it’s a Snow Day. Falling in love over the holidays is like Winter Break with six inches of snow on the sled hill every day and hot cocoa waiting at the bottom after each thrilling run.
You find yourself in a busy mall or on crowded city street and on any other day a crowd like this would drive you crazy. But you’ve got a Macy’s bag in one hand, and a hand of someone else in the other. She is asking if there is anything in that bag for her. After a cup of coffee at Starbucks you drop your bags off at the car and you take in some Holiday-themed movie, a comedy that isn’t really all that funny but when you laugh together it feels far funnier. You hold hands in the theater, even with greasy popcorn fingers, because you just want a physical touch.
You ask him about the Star on top of the Charlie Brown sized tree he has in his apartment and he tells you all about his Christmases as a kid and about his upbringing. They were one of those families that only went to Church on Christmas Eve and Easter. She tells you about her hippie parents and how they insisted on her and her brother taking time to shop for and donate a present to underprivileged children. That ritual, she explains, was something they did every year along with a Solstice celebration. He smiles when you tell him your stories.
When you’re kissing on the couch you want to tickle him but you’re still a little afraid how he will react. Her eyes are closed and yours are not and as you kiss you look up toward the tree and wonder, “Is that Star crooked?”
He comes to your company’s holiday party and he charms the pants off of everyone, just like you knew he would. She comes with you to dinner at the home of your oldest friends. They’re always on the lookout to see if you’ve found the one. You are charmed to near euphoria at the sight of him playing on the floor with his friends’ infant son. He places a tiny Santa hat on the little tike’s head and they laugh hysterically. The tree is gorgeous, you conclude, and it seems like only married people can have trees like that.
You exchange presents after dinner on the 23rd. He is traveling the next day to see his family and though a part of you wondered if he might ask you to come along you knew in your heart of hearts that it would be too soon for such a thing. You don’t really want to travel. You’d rather wake up to her on Christmas morning then your brother’s screaming brats. But it is enough to be sharing a meal with her by candlelight. From your table by the window you see people outside who are still scrambling for last minute gifts. Between dinner and desert you exchange gifts. You give her a beautiful snow globe you saw her spying one day while you were shopping together. It was way too expensive, she knows it, but is ecstatic just the same. You give him a scarf, feeling insecure about spending less on him then he did on you, but it is a very nice scarf and he is charmed that you remembered him saying at Macy’s one day “In all my life no one ever got me a scarf. We grew up in the cold and no one ever gave me a scarf as a gift.” You hold hands across the table and listen to how much you love each other’s gifts.
She is over at your apartment again a few days after Christmas while you are taking down ornaments and the stocking you had over the mantle. He tells you about his trip and you talk about plans for New Year’s. You wonder if she will still be with you at Valentine’s. You remember that old myth about women and the holidays.
As he walks you down to your car you finalize your plans together for New Year’s. You are both “on”. Its cold outside and her cheeks get flush again. You’re starting to get used to that and a few hundred other things about her. You feel him looking at you and marvel at how special he makes you feel. And he is wearing the scarf. He wraps it around you to pull you closer. You can tell she likes the closeness and you think to yourself that maybe that scarf was a pretty nice present after all.
You kiss him and think of the beautiful snow globe. You can’t find the heart to tell him your cat knocked it off the table and it shattered into a thousand pieces, with glass and water everywhere. The next time he is over you can just say you packed it away with the rest of the holiday decorations. And next year...well, if he is still around next year you’ll just have to come clean.