Listening to every heart
The First Married Christmas
They say time allows us to look back and laugh at ourselves. My first year of marriage to the first husband has always lent me a chuckle…in the aftermath. In fact, I look fondly upon that time as one of the reasons I have grown so far…I couldn’t be that remiss in my actions, forever. But God smiled…and left me moments that I will never forget.
God does have a sense of humor.
I won’t go into grand detail of the first three months prior to Christmas – let it be said I was married in September, in California, and moved outside of the state for the first time ever that same September, and by December, I had gone from a warm home life…to a wonderment of stages. I had also been blessed with mononucleosis, so I went from the married 115 pounds at 5’7” [and believe me, folks, my appetite was always that of a horse…so it was genetic!] down to 90 pounds. By Christmas I think I was topping about 100 – maybe 102 pounds.
I had already been in Illinois all of three months, and had lost one job due to my catch of the virus, and had been employed at a small time insurance agency in early November. The boss seemed to appreciate my attempts at taking on the dull and mundane workload, and when Christmas Eve rolled around, I was surprised when he asked me, and my husband, to join him for a Christmas drink. We were to go to my in-laws house some 30 miles away to attend [my first ever] Midnight Mass [although not Catholic, I was looking forward to this sober celebration of joy] and apparently my husband felt, at 5:00 p.m., that a drink [or two] wouldn’t hurt before we were to leave for the family’s gathering around 10:00 p.m. That would give us time to gather, then leave for Mass, etc.
Talk about plans of mice, and men.
My husband was a man who enjoyed his drinking. He was four years older than myself, but the drinks I had experienced in my lifetime up until that point where innocent in kind. Oh, I had a couple of orange and rums before dinner of my senior dance [illegally, I might add, but it was 1969, and I ALWAYS looked much too old for my age…so have, as yet, never been carded, and hardly expect that to happen NOW… ] and then at graduation [still was 17, but Mom tasted my drink beforehand, and proceeded to allow me to drink in their home] and of course, when we were engaged later that year, I had one celebratory drink; and at the wedding in September 1970, tasted my first champagne, courtesy of my grandmother’s grand friend, Tracey. So suffice to say? I was not a “drinker” of any stage. But I knew my grandmother enjoyed her Scotch; my husband downed his beers liberally when we had money, which had been quite spare from September 1970 through that Christmas Eve….
and I think you can see where this is going….
My then-husband hit it off with the boss who was pouring something rather sweetish and liberally over ice. I have NO clue as of this day what it was that I was downing…but it tasted good…too good.
I am not sure exactly what time it was that my husband went the few blocks to our apartment over the bar which was across the street slightly north of the Hospital, and directly east was the blasted pink Dunkin’ Donuts’ space….oh! You can imagine that neighborhood. Sorry about that.
No wonder it took until just recently for me to appreciate pink again. Hmmm…hadn’t thought about that until just now.
I had not eaten all day, hoping to get off early on Christmas Eve, which of course, didn’t happen. So the drinks had literally “done me in” and my husband wasn’t doing too well, either, so I suspect [although hadn’t thought to ask then] that he had probably downed a few something-elses prior to coming to pick me up. I remember telling him it was about 8:00 p.m. or so, and I needed to lay down in my natural altogether and would dress AFTER I got done being sick and tired, and he would wake me, yes? Well, he got down to his au natural state as well, unbeknownst to me, and ended up hugging the porcelain queen.
What’s that lyric…I could have danced all night? Well, THAT night I could have SLEPT all night…after having done some few thousand turns of the stomach….
But what I remember most was being abruptly awakened by my very irate father-in-law who had a key to our apartment [which we had failed to take away from the in-laws after my illness, when they were checking in…and bringing chicken noodle soup and such] and I am not sure what he was more upset over…seeing me in the altogether in my bed, or seeing his son, who was still hugging the porcelain queen. OH, he was SO insistent that we quickly dress and get our mutual behinds down to the proper daughter-in-law who was attending Midnight Mass, and had called to find out why we were so late! [Yes, we were still SO poor we didn’t even have a phone….]
Fully chastised, extremely embarrassed beyond anything I had EVER experienced, I obediently scurried to dress and wasn’t at all too sure that I shouldn’t take the steering wheel, as my hubby as FAR from sober to be driving some 30 miles in the dark.
But Dad was a short, balding, stout German who one obeyed, when he demanded. And he didn’t demand a whole lot.
I still wonder just what all he saw, and how long he stood, looking.
I’ll never know.
But I think he might have felt he had been gifted that night, and then the genetic strain of his upbringing took over…and he was just mad he couldn’t have looked a bit longer…
As I look back on this, my cheeks still burn a soft pink…but not quite for the same reasons as before. Now, it is because I let a good man down…and I had never intended that, at all.
Merry Christmas, everyone.