It’s my fault—hands down—no one to blame but me. I was the one who said, “Felix, instead of an engagement ring, let’s buy a Serta mattress, so when we get married, we’ll have a deluxe pillow-top upon which to rest our weary bodies.”
“Colleen,” answered my Professor of Economics to be. “You are a breathtakingly practical girl. I knew the moment I set eyes on your intact earlobes—you were the one.”
Our first Christmas as man and wife, I asked my bow-tied, but-not-yet-tenured-professor, if we could scrape funds together and purchase a shop-vac. The sump-pump in the basement of our saltbox was temperamental and I felt sheepish continually borrowing the neighbor’s.
For our second Christmas, we purchased a deluxe rotor-tiller complete with useful attachments for breaking up the backyard clay.
On our third Christmas, I opened a juicer that was guaranteed to run so cool as not to destroy live vegetable enzymes I’d harvest the following summer.
With each Christmas I felt Felix’s admiration intensify. Grain grinders, canners and miniature chicken coops were the tools I utilized to perfect the art of self-sufficient-homemaking.
Practical, down-to-earth, and logical, were the endearments that caressed my unadorned ears.
I knew the reason for the season, and it didn’t include wanton, wasteful, commercialism—even after he earned tenure.
And wasn’t I proud of my humble, noble wants.
Then last Friday, two weeks before Christmas, a foolish longing burrowed itself into my heart. I was brushing my teeth with my homemade spearmint toothpaste, when I had to do a double-take at the medicine cabinet. It looked like I was wearing earrings. I leaned over the sink assembly, relieved to find two perfect teardrop water marks. I leaned back out until the orbs were again settled just below my earlobes.
Well, aren’t those pretty.
“What’s that, Colleen?”
Had I spoken aloud? I wet the bottom corner of my robe and rubbed away the offending image. It didn’t help. Dangly, shimmery drops pervaded my thoughts the rest of the day and then day after day.
“Felix,” I said, a week later, after awakening from a dream where my high school had just voted me: Most likely to have holes in the head. “Are we philosophically, diametrically opposed to ear piercings . . . or is it just our personal preference?”
Felix lifted up onto his elbow. “That’s a strange question.”
“What if Daria wants pierced ears?”
“She’s ten months old—it’s a little early to be worrying.”
“So, it would worry you?”
“Let’s hope she’s as level-headed as her mother.”
That day we were pelted with an ice storm—the kind that crystallizes the world. Diamonds waltzed from every window. The verse about not worrying what we wear came to mind. There weren’t any lilies left, but the bare willow tree branches hung low, weighted with beauty. Did wishing for a glimmer of my own make me a shallow sellout?
“Isn’t that lovely?” I pointed to the ice-encrusted woods backing our property.
“It truly is,” said Felix.
“No wonder diamonds are the most precious stones.”
“You know, we haven’t settled on this year’s Christmas present.”
“Really?” He’d made a leap from diamonds to Christmas presents. Promising.
“You suggested a trash compactor or an industrial compost bin. Both excellent ideas.” He kissed my lips. “You’ve always been breathtakingly practical.”
My spirits crashed through the floorboards and smacked headlong into the sump-pump.
Christmas morning arrived, but we stayed in our posture-pedic positions until Daria demanded, “Ma, Ma, Ma . . .”
“The house smells so good,” said Felix, as we headed down the hallway.
“Cranberry Harvest. Bread machine—Christmas ’06.”
Minutes later, the three of us sat cozied-up in the living room. Daria unwrapped the lone gift from under the miniature tree we would plant in the spring. “Bay-bay, bay-bay,” she said, poking the baby’s shiny eyes.
Felix and I would shop for our trash compactor after Christmas—to get the best deal.
“That just leaves this.” He pulled a box from his robe.
“Earrings?” I blurted.
“Nooo—you don’t have pierced ears.”
With a flourish he parted the hinged lid. There sparkled a bouquet of diamonds embedded into a white-gold wedding band. “But it’s so impractical,” I cried, instantly becoming a weepy, slimy mess.
“Colleen—make no mistake—you’re breathtakingly practical, but you’re also my exceedingly exquisite and kind-hearted girl.”
“Ooh,” I cooed, feeling released from hyper-practicality.
“Ooh,” Daria cooed—making a grab for my newly acquired bling.
That didn’t bode well.
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