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Best Christmas gift ever

Every year, The Mister and I watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, and every year he complains about it. In my previous post I described how he went out of his way to silence some wind chimes that were keeping me awake, (and the unexpected consequences that followed), and that is typical of my husband, generous of soul, would do anything for me without complaint, except when it comes to A Charlie Brown Christmas. Then fuggetaboutit!

“Do I have to watch it again this year?”

“Yes.”

“But why?”

“Because it’s a Christmas tradition.”

“So is butchering turkeys, but you don’t make me watch that.”

I looked at him squint-eyed.

“Sorry, Pa. I don’t make up the rules.”

He sighed deeply and looked away, then snapped his head back around.

“Wait a minute,” he said. “Yes you do.”

“Well OK, but only about this.”

He didn’t say anything for a such a long time I sneaked a look at him. He was staring at me.

“How can you think you’d get away with a lie like that after 25 years of marriage?”

“Quiet. I’m trying to listen.”

In 2004, my mother’s health went into a steep decline. After suffering a stroke, it was clear she could no longer live on her own, and after considerable searching we found what seemed to be the perfect placement for her in a retirement home. It took an enormous effort on the part of my siblings, The Mister, and myself to settle her in there and close her apartment, but we went home hopeful she would eventually come to like her new home.

Three weeks later however, we were going to have to dash back to Sudbury. Mum had suffered a disastrous fall and was back in the hospital with rib fractures and an undiagnosed case of C. deficile, a condition often fatal in seniors. She now needed nursing home care and The Mister and I were in charge of closing up her room at the retirement home, and moving over her things to the new facility.

“I had such hopes,” I said to The Mister the night before we left.

“It’ll be all right,” he replied.

The next morning, I walked into the living room to find he’d turned on the Christmas tree lights, something he never does. (That’s my job.) It looked so beautiful twinkling there in the pre-dawn darkness. I looked to him with a question in my eyes.

“I thought you’d like to see it before we left.”

I swallowed hard and said, “Thanks, babe.”

“Yeah…well…better get going.”

Our work in Sudbury was exhausting and heartbreaking, made even grimmer by the fact that they’d disconnected the cable in Mum’s room at the retirement home (where we were staying), so we didn’t even have TV to distract ourselves with. One evening, I was packing another box of her things when The Mister came into the room and said, “There’s a television in the lounge at the end of the hall. Why don’t we go watch a program or two.”

“Naw,” I said. “I don’t feel like it.”

He came up and put his arms around me. “I have it on good authority,” he whispered, “that A Charlie Brown Christmas starts in five minutes.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

Four hundred miles from home, in the midst of dark despair, somehow The Mister found a way, no, the perfect way, to lift my spirits and restore my equilibrium. He watched it with me and laughed in all the right places, just like he does every year. And I watched it biting my lip and holding my eyes wide against the tears. A gift I will never forget.

And what about you, gentle readers? What was your most memorable Christmas gift?

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4 Comments

  1. Heather Ferdinand
    Posted December 4, 2014 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    OH Penny-Anne I just love reading about you and your sweet Mister. This brought tears to my eyes. I just love knowing that someone so wonderful and kind has someone like your Mister being kind to you. As always I’m blown away by what happens when you put pen to paper. It happens every time…I forget at some point I’m reading, and I’m litterly in the story You are so amazingly talented and I feel so blessed to call you my friend. I hope your Mom has recovered now, such a hard time for you all. hugs,

    • Penny-Anne
      Posted December 5, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      Heather my dear, you bless my heart. Thank you so much for the kind words and your continued support. So deeply appreciated.

  2. Chris
    Posted December 7, 2014 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Penny, Terry and I had just finished watching Charlie Brown Christmas the other night when I found your new post. What a lovely, touching story. CBC is not my most fav Christmas show, but it’s truly honest and brings a very simple message to a very complex world about what Christmas is really all about. Whenever I watch this at future Christmases, I will always think of you, Tony and Mom. I’m sure she would have liked watching it too. That was such a difficult time for the three of you during those horrible weeks, but I choose to think of her watching it with you as she used to be and laughing in all the right places with Tony! Thanks for sharing. We have so few good memories from that time, it’s so nice to have this.

    • Penny-Anne
      Posted December 11, 2014 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      Aw, thanks for your post, Gus! I still take comfort from that memory and guess I always will. The Mister really came through for me and I just loved him for it.

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