This year I had a lot of wishes come true for Christmas. Noah pooped on the potty of his own volition, and I have to believe it was because I had told him that was the only gift I wanted this year. Creepy. Gross. Totally true.
I also received a gift from Big Joe, as we in our house call my husband, stemming from his weird and somewhat Polish penchant for keeping/conserving things most people throw away. Like hotel mini condiments. When he came home from Pittsburgh last week, his suitcase was crammed with room service-sized jars of honey, ketchup, you name it. My kids exploded into giggles this morning when we discovered a hotel-sized grape jelly had landed in my stocking. I did not explode into giggles. On the contrary, my eyes misted up and I looked at my husband with cheesy, gag-inducing amounts of fondness.
Joey said, "Why did Daddy put that in your stocking?!"
I said, "Because grape jelly is very special to us. Daddy used it to ask me to marry him."
Joey yelled, "WHAT? THAT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE!"
So I explained the whole story. That Mommy and Daddy have known each other a very, very long time. That when we were much younger, we weren't in love at all, but just good friends. And one time, to be silly, Daddy gave Mommy a grape jelly as a "present." We were in a restaurant, the kind where people might order toast and might want a little grape jelly packet to go with it, and Daddy thought it would be funny. What Daddy didn't know was that even back then, Mommy loved him very much. And so she kept the grape jelly.
Then, after a long, long time of being friends, and then after a time when Daddy went away and Mommy went away and we didn't talk for awhile, we fell in love for real. And one day, Mommy said, "Remember that time you gave me a grape jelly as a joke? Well, I loved you so much that I kept it all this time." After that, any time we were in a restaurant that had little jellies, Daddy would find a way to give me a new one. He gave me so many, that pretty soon I had over a hundred grape jellies! They were ALL OVER my apartment!
The first Christmas we were together and in love, Daddy gave Mommy a stocking filled with all kinds of special treats. There were markers, crayons, Post-Its, new pencils and a pencil sharpener, fancy gel pens...the kind of gifts that make Mommy really excited: School Supplies! (just what every teacher wants--seriously!) And in the very, very bottom of the stocking, stuck in the toe, was a grape jelly.
Mommy loved the grape jelly best of all, and smiled and let it drop back into the stocking with the other gifts. But Daddy got upset. He said, "Um, maybe you should open THIS jelly."
"Why?" All I could think in my head was, "I'm not having toast." It didn't seem to matter. Daddy reached into the stocking and pulled out the jelly. He said, "You really need to open this one." And suddenly he got down on his knees, peeled back the foil wrapper, and inside, it wasn't jelly at all. Daddy had scooped it all out, and put in a diamond ring instead. He said, "Mary Pat, I don't know how long I've loved you. I think I always have, and I KNOW I always will. Will you marry me?"
After I'd finished the story, I looked at Joey and Noah, who were staring at me expectantly.
"So that's it?" asked Joey. "THAT'S how Dad got you to marry him? With JELLY?!"
"That's it," I said. I guess I was an easy catch, but of all my Christmas memories, it's by far my favorite. Christmas Magic for me isn't just seeing my children and my family so happy and in love and together on a special day. To me, it's the fact that I've been lucky enough to have this family at all. Lucky that Joe chose me--even though he knew everything about me--and gave me all the things that make up my life as I know and love it.
Merry Christmas to all!