9 years ago on December 16th, BF and I went out on our first date. It was a bit of a miracle that we went out on that date. I like to say that he had to beg after committing a social faux pas a month earlier (we had known each other for years). He kept asking if he could take me to dinner to “make it up to me.” “No,” I kept insisting, until I finally just said, “If I go to dinner with you this one time, are we even? Can this whole begging for forgiveness thing just be done?” “Yes,” he said, so suffice to say that neither of us really saw that first date as a first date. Well, the first date was much more fun than I expected it to be, and, yet, I had made it absolutely clear to him that there wouldn’t be any more dates before even going out on the first one. So, what’s a girl to do to let a guy know that it wouldn’t get on her nerves any if he really did ask her out on a date? Well, buy him a Christmas tree ornament for the Christmas tree he had put up, strung lights on, and then bought exactly 12 snowflake ornaments for. I left that ornament for him to find on his front porch when he came home from work the day after our dinner together. And then we really did decide to go out on a date (BF actually called all his friends’ wives and asked, ‘what does it mean if a girl leaves a Christmas ornament on your porch?’ Picturing him doing that still makes me laugh.).
Back then, I called BF “the man that I see.” I was tentative about dating– it wasn’t that I was scared of being hurt. In fact, my past relationships were loving and dear, ended very amicably and for practical reasons, and didn’t leave me scarred or scared. My last long-term boyfriend (before BF) I had dated for years, we had just adored each other, and had split more over distance than feelings. He is still one of the most wonderful men I know. But I had just started a new job, was a couple weeks away from starting graduate school, and I wanted to do both well. So BF became the man that I saw. Then a couple years later, we got engaged, and BF became the man that I date. We started to joke that when we got married, he could officially become my boyfriend (our joke now is that it is only with a divorce that he can become ‘my husband’). One time, a friend of mine from college- a male friend- came to town and was going to eat dinner with BF and I at the downtown Soda Shop in our town. My friend and I had gone to a retirement party for one of our college mentors and then walked over to the Soda Shop together. BF waited for us in a booth there. As we walked into the Soda Shop, I noticed many people that BF and I both knew and some that only knew me (specifically some of my college students who were freshmen and had not yet met BF). My friend and I headed over to the booth BF had saved, and I waved to my college students.
“Rosie,” they hollered, “is that your Boyfriend?” They were pointing to my college friend. I knew what they meant. They knew what they meant, but my college friend had no idea. “Why, yes, I am her boyfriend. I can’t believe she’s so open about our relationship.” The town people looked from BF to me to my college friend to my students absolutely startled. BF and I laughed pretty hard about it later.
Anyway, one of our annual December traditions is that I give BF a a new Christmas tree ornament every year on December 16th. I have been thinking a lot about holiday traditions lately because, hopefully, we’ll have a bigger family this time next year, and it’ll be especially nice to build traditions together as a family of three. Did you have especially touching holiday traditions when you were a kid? Do you have some now? What are your favorite holiday traditions? Give ’em up so I can start making my list!
** The Jolly ornament is that first ornament I left for BF on his porch.