This may well be the most happening yuletide I’ve ever had. My marriage on December 7th tops the list of highlights this season, naturally, followed by the impending arrival of my youngest sis, Deidre, and my errant brother, Bob, next week. This will be the first time in ten years that all four siblings will be here in Michigan, in the same room, celebrating together on Christmas Eve. Absent for the third Christmas will be my father, who died in March, 2008. But mom is still alive and well, and that makes five of us, all of whom are, individually and collectively, happier than we have been in decades. Not bad.
Such joyous declarations could be enough, and maybe should be enough to report during such blissful times. If this essay were, say, more along the lines of a Hallmark Channel movie, I would add some soothing background music, a gauze filter, Roma Downey in an ermine collar and wicked fine backlighting, and call it good. Roll credits, fade out, enjoy a lingering glow of peace and goodwill toward humankind.
But we inevitably waken in a chokehold of grief or avarice. We still want what we don’t have and we just can’t seem to help it. Whether it is something we once had and then lost, like a loved one, or have never had and covet with every fiber of our fake pine-scented Noel being.
For example, shortly after Mark and I married, my best friend, Elvina, and my mother, both of whom have been single for many, many years, called me in tears, lamenting their single status in a sudden relapse of loneliness and regret. “I want what you have,” they each told me almost verbatim, “I haven’t felt this lonely in a long while.” At first it seemed odd since Mark and I have lived together for four years, the marriage being a mere formality. It isn’t as though I was single and unattached like they are and then presto, I’m engaged. But, the short engagement had indeed made me blab to them about my hunt for a diamond ring, and I did spend hours flashing it and bespeaking its virtues, especially the sixty percent discount I got at J.C. Penney.
Maybe it’s my fault, I don’t know. It was my very first diamond, and there aren’t many firsts left at my ripe old age of fifty-three. I was excited, naturally, and wanted to share it with my loved ones. One thing I do know for sure is that this first diamond has opened up a whole new sparkly world to me, full of G color and VS-1 clarity ratings. Is there something about that XX chromosome that intuits at first blush that 1) diamonds are shiny and pretty, and 2) bigger diamonds are even shinier and prettier?
On December 14th, Mark planted a quick kiss on my lips and said “Happy Anniversary, honey, we’ve been married one week today!”
“Right,” I say, “can I get my anniversary diamond upgrade now?” I have rated my wedding ring diamonds at a dismal I-J color and I3 clarity. Industrial diamond merchants, I have read online, wouldn’t even buy my stones.
“No,” he stated, and walked away.
“But I want a better diamond,” I call after him.
“It’s good to know what you want,” he responds, beaming at me with that I-adore-you-when-you’re-like-this grin.
“My dad used to say that to me when I was a kid,” I shoot back. Mark reminds me a lot of my father, one big reason why I love him. And one big reason why I loved dad was that he never shamed me for my avarice.
“It’s good to know what you want,” he would say when I’d whine about the candy or the doll. “How could you get through life without knowing what you want?”
I want, therefore I thrive. Smart guy, my dad.