I had one of the best Christmases ever. Maybe it was because the grandsons were older and less frenzied about what Santa left under the tree. Or maybe because Ernie and I said don’t give us “things” or “stuff,” just experiences, as presents. Or maybe because my son brought his significant other for the first time on Christmas and my son-in-law brought along his father, who had lost his wife this past October. Or maybe it was because the feeling of family with the inevitable losses and delightful gains confirmed a sense of belonging.
And, of course, there was Sparky, the dog, that didn’t beg at the table.
Ernie outdid himself with a pork roast and a made-from-scratch French apple tart. A table laid out for ten stretched our pared-down set of dinnerware and cutlery, so we had mismatched plates and told everyone to hang on to their forks for dessert.
But it was the presence of those sharing our meal and not the trappings of Christmas that made the day special.
When my husband and I married over 40 years ago (yikes) we didn’t bow to the common convention of other couples in selecting “our song.” In reality, we didn’t even think of it. Father Donald Cooney (where is he now?) married us. A handsome guy, not too much older than us and apparently more sentimental than Ernie and I, spoke from the altar of Saint Aloysius Catholic Church in Jersey City. He faced the congregation and weaved the story of Ernie and my meeting, falling in love and deciding to marry with the backdrop of Barbra Streisand’s song People.
When we walked down the aisle, as man and wife, besides each other we had “our song.” The song that we have played every year on our anniversary.
One of our New Year’s resolutions (long-time married couples share common resolutions that the wife usually makes) is to include more people in our lives. In 2014 we will attend a long delayed Crane reunion, visit old friends in Washington, DC and New York City that we haven’t seen in years. Maybe we’ll even find Donald Cooney.
People who need people are the luckiest people in the world…