I wonder how long she waited behind the glass door that leads into their quaint one-story home. Was she watching us, peering from between the blinds of the front window as we unpacked gifts and goodies from Dave's Jeep, dubbed Gertrude, or "Gertie" for short? She was standing in the doorway, like a sentry of good tidings, and with a broad smile and a warm hug she hastened us to drop the gifts at the tree and our bottoms in a seat at the dinner table. Who were we not to oblige?
For a gathering of six, his parents had put together a bounty, probably more than enough to feed my family, all eight of us. Between potatoes, pork and pie (and of course, the obligatory poultry), we coasted through coffee and a few gifts before Grandma turned into a pumpkin and had to be shipped off to the "retirement community."
But the best was yet to come. Dave tore at the wrapping of a narrow, thin, weighty box and as he opened the cardboard, it was as if a golden light shone out of the package, a light so beautiful that immediately, he began to weep. In all, it was the best gift reaction, ever. I'm sure that it can't be topped.
The next day, albeit three hours late, we headed out to Houston from Dallas to spend Christmas and its eve at my parents' house. Everyone, from in-laws, outlaws, fiancees to friends, was there. And where there is a family gathering at the clan's outpost, there is booze; not just a little, but a lot. Beer, wine and everything fine; from Jack to Jim and a little tickle from Dickel, we were all in the Holiday spirit shortly after Big Country arrived with a tipper of Crown.
After three bottles of HRM Rex Goliath California Pinot Noir and diligent prodding from Big Country, Dave stood and proposed a toast. Somewhere between his misstepped thanks, which was broken up by flits of laughter here and there between sisters, it came out of his mouth like Jello after a shot of Novicaine; he asked my father for permission to marry me.
Dad was stunned, and he smiled and I think he said yes, or something. God knows that if Dave had planned it, it didn't go according to plan (but in situations like this, what does?). A couple of minutes later I was in Dave's arms, happier than I can remember being. So, it's official, I'm off the market. Not only that, but the whole thing was done Southern, blue-collar proper.
And soon thereafter, a stray hand from a slightly intoxicated, newly engaged man brushed against a crystal and gold goblet. In pieces, on the tarrazzo floor; I remembered a time when I begged to use one of those goblets, but my parents were afraid that they'd be broken, that a clumsy child with unruly arms would knock them from the table. We retired from the burgundy in all our good news.