It has been a tough economic year in the Cohen household. I was laid off in April and Bruce's hours were cut from 40 to 3 per week. Meager would define Christmas 2010.
But, we are both "grownups" and able to handle those little disappointments. We could live without all the ribbons, without all the tags. We could live without packages, boxes or bags.
Okay, the truth. I was depressed. Terribly.
I avoided decorating for Christmas until I just couldn't take it any more.
Little by little I brought things out of storage. But I would not put up the 7-foot artificial tree this year.
"Too much trouble," I told my husband.
Silently, though, I had already decided. "Such a big tree should not overshadow the limited number of presents to lay beneath it." And the darker thought, farther back in the dark recesses of my mind, was whether there would be anything at all to open on Christmas morning.
But then a few small gifts began to arrive from our family and friends out of town. My spirits were brightened but I did not believe I needed a tree. I justified myself. My mother has had Christmas for decades without a tree and she enjoys her holidays quite fine. I decided that I had reached "that age".
And then, God inspired some very special people and we were blessed by their generosity.
With the cash we had received, Bruce set out on his own to buy his wife a Christmas present. He left the house for the 9:30am bus on Christmas Eve Eve. Two days to go and he was going to shop.
Please, let it suffice to tell you that this is new for him. He is a convert from Judaism, suffering from a communication disorder post-stroke. Shopping for presents is not something he does without great stress and fear. He has gone out each Christmas since our marriage in 2005 with his mother-in-law or another friend in tow. It has been a "huge dot deal" to overcome his fears about the whole ordeal. And it is so touching to watch him try.
Yet, this year he decided to tackle the task alone. Whether that was truly a free choice or a circumstance, I do not know. But he left early and shopped. He came home hours later with a large plastic bag from Pier One Imports (good sign) and stood staring at the empty space where the Christmas tree should be.
"I don't know what to do." His face was so forlorn. He had learned that presents go under the tree but where do they go when there is no tree?
"You can hide them." I suggested a few hiding places but he was not convinced that hiding them was the right idea.
He finally agreed, trying to hide the disappointment on his face. I could put them in the steamer trunk with the other packages we'd received from out of town. He was satisfied with the solution but he was not pleased.
When I got into the trunk this morning to hide the gifts I had purchased for him, I could not help but notice that the Pier One Imports bag held gift-bagged-and-tissue-concealed presents.
Wrapped? For me!
He had handled the wrapping and presentation himself. This was bigger than big. It was grander than grand. This was every wife's Christmas dream wrapped up and handed to little old me.
This was the kind of moment that deserved a monumental display of appreciation. My one-handed-man had conquered gift-wrapping!
It almost made me cry.
Well, I did cry.
He had conquered wrapping and I had hidden his efforts away in the trunk.
I devised a plan.
When Bruce left again this morning to meet his new "sponsee" at an AA meeting, I went immediately to work. Three hours later I had finished.
I think his gifts deserve to be showcased beneath the Christmas tree.
Don't you think?
Merry Christmas everyone!
I testify that Jesus lives and loves each of us. He is aware of every circumstance and mindful of every need. I have been poignantly reminded of that fact - once again.