No matter if you’ve read Gift of the Magi and were touched by its poor-people holiday motif—actually you’ll have to excuse any comparisons to the Magi as it’s much more poignant and powerful. If you don’t know the Magi, it’s the tale of a couple in love. To buy her husband a chain for his watch, she sells her hair, and to buy her some accessories for her beautiful hair, he sells his watch. The point being that their love is a gift greater than all gifts ever. And I wish we’d all read it and believe it and stop buying crap just because we feel we must buy crap. Crapmas.
It was the holiday season of 2004, and I stayed home from work to surprise Sarah by putting up lights around the house. It’s something I don’t do because it’s a waste of electricity, but I wanted to show her that I had the spirit and would bring to life a holiday she’d never forget. What I didn’t know is that while I took the day to string some lights, she went out and bought some luggage. This luggage was to be a surprise, which meant she’d have to lug it onto a commuter train and then drag it a quarter mile home.
I guess I should add that my mom lived with us. And she was so happy to see me put up some decor and was so excited to surprise Sarah. We bounded around and added little touches to the holiday house. That night, my hope was to watch through the window to see Sarah’s shadow hurry home in the streetlights. At that moment, I’d plug in our display and the front yard would light up.
Of course Sarah was later than usual because she was conjuring luggage somewhere along her daily downtown Denver route. I’d call her office a few times but get no answer, and this was before she had a cell phone so finding her would be futile. My mom’s sister was in town, too, so it was getting pretty estrogeny (new word) around the house. The ladies and I sat by the window and watched…and watched. I paced around, checked the lights over and over, walked to the end of the block and back but nothing. Finally, my mom whispered from the window, “I think she’s coming!” I sprinted to the switch and confirmed a sighting. We waited for her to get right in front of the yard before illuminating our maple tree. That’s where Sarah stood, exhausted from a day at work and a night of sneaking luggage. She slunk low, as if ducking the glow, and glanced around as to wonder what had happened to her usual darkened sidewalk. A passage that would have allowed her to sneak undetected into the garage to hide my new luggage.
I still wasn’t sure as to what she was dragging. And I was a little sad she didn’t seem all that excited.
I stepped out onto the front porch and into the clandestine plan of my gift-bearing spouse. “Hi,” I said and left room for a question. “Are you a dragging a body?”
“I was planning on surprising you with some luggage,” she shared, defeated.
“Well, I finally put up some lights,” and she nodded to the obvious.
“Merry Christmas,” she said. And I replied with the same.