Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It's a Wonderful, Wonderful Helmet

On the first Sunday of every December we go to church, have breakfast while our children attend religious education class (Thank you, religious education class), and then head to the Christmas tree farm to pick out our tree. Last year, we channeled our inner Chevy Chase and chose two trees that we spent the rest of the day dressing up in their glittery, holiday best.
The smaller, neater tree was draped in classy white lights and flaunted our collection of White House ornaments, fragile adornments from Lenox and Waterford, and the treasured ornaments annually gifted to us by my mother. This regal tree vainly preened in the corner of our sunroom where at night the white lights reflected off the many windows turned pitch black by the winter night sky. The effect was a swirly, distortedly magical scene plucked from a Van Gogh canvas.
In our family room loomed a massive, towering pine wrapped in rainbows and entombed in miles of iridescent red and gold tinsel ropes. This admittedly gaudy tree stood like a proud grandmother, so very honored to wear more than ten years worth of construction paper, Elmer’s glue and glitter fastidiously fashioned by little fingers into precious keepsakes. Jagged cut-out heads from old school photographs are now the grinning faces of handmade reindeers, Santas, elves and oddly enough, one exceedingly charming Christmas platypus. This is the tree we sit around and enjoy still-warm sugar cookies with green and red stained fingers; and where my husband reads "The Night Before Christmas" every Christmas Eve in a dramatic and bellowing baritone.
For the first four years we lived in this house, the family room was empty of furniture and primarily used as a holiday room. For a few weeks a year it was dominated by a fireplace mantle overly embellished with a tangle of colorful lights and various garlands, a quaintly lit Christmas village, and nine stockings greedily strung out for our little family of four. But this holiday, my husband surprised me with two cozy wingback chairs—perfect for reading in front of the fire—and an elegant sofa chosen for its beautiful love-knot patterned fabric.
My husband and I don’t usually exchange gifts for Christmas. We typically just fill each other’s stockings with books and magazines from CVS and maybe a few fancy chocolates or a new deodorant stick. But not this year. That man had just given me a NEW PLACE TO READ! The pressure was on. He deserved way more than John Grisham and Right Guard.
I remembered a few days back when he showed me on Ebay a vintage Patriots helmet from the 1970s that belonged to Steve Nelson, whose jersey numer 57 had been retired. My husband has a thing for Pat the Patriot and he had fallen head over helmets for that hard hat. The auction was newly listed and the price was sure to go sky high, so he dismissed it and moved on. Well, I revisited the auction when it had only a few hours left and the price hadn’t increased at all. I put in a bid and checked it 30 minutes before the auction ended. Mine was still the high bid! In a giddy rush to hedge my bet, I increased my maximum bid by $100 in case a last minute bidder came to play.
I called my husband downstairs to keep him busy for the next 20 minutes and to make sure the auction didn’t re-cross his mind. Afterwards I checked the computer. With 1 minute and 16 seconds left, my original bid was still reigning. My husband was going to be thrilled. I straightened some ornaments on the tree and turned back to the computer. The auction was over… and I had been outbid!
What the fu ... dge?
I walked upstairs and found my husband grinning like a Cheshire elf.
“I won,” he whooped.
It seemed my husband, with all the stealth and strategy of a fat man in a red suit sneaking down a chimney, had logged onto Ebay with 33 seconds left in the auction and placed the winning bid. Without realizing it, he had outbid his wife by $106 to win his own Christmas present.
As his gift that year, I didn't tell him.