John, having been in the band himself while in school, volunteered to come back and assist the director during marching season. Therefore, he was at our camps and most of our after-school practices. In fact, at that first camp I predicted to a good friend that I would one day marry him, not realizing at the time I would spend the next 4 years wooing him. But that's a story best saved for another time.
Anyway, for our first - and only - Christmas spent while dating he gave me a very pretty heart-shaped necklace, which had little diamond chips running along one half the heart, and two or three really beautiful sweaters. As we had only been dating a couple months I was more than delighted with my gifts. This man had good taste.
The next year, during our first Christmas as husband and wife, I could hardly wait for the morning of the twenty-fifth to arrive. When it did, we started a tradition that continues today in which we pass out all the presents that belong to each of us and then take turns unwrapping one at a time.
The next several minutes were pretty much a blur of disappointment. What had happened to the guy I dated? I was beginning to think maybe his mom had done his shopping for him the year before. Each gift was a little more disappointing than the last. The final box revealed a truly hideous blouse/sweater combo. The blouse was white and the sweater - which was attached to the blouse - was black with large white stitching and the whole ensemble was tagged with a card that said "2 In 1. Made in America". At this point, I was on the verge of tears.
Then my husband of six months said he had just one more present for me and asked that I remain in the room while he went to retrieve it. When he returned he explained that, due to its size, he was unable to wrap it. It was waiting for me in the hall, just beyond a closed door.
As he helped me up off the floor I began to envision what it might be. Furniture? A new television? Or was the comment about the size just a ruse? Maybe it was airline tickets to a winter vacation destination.
As we approached the door I was told to close my eyes. Ohhhh, this was going to be good. I now understood that all those crummy gifts from just moments before were just part of a plan.
Blindly, I stepped through the door. My heart was racing. My teeth gripped my lower lip. And there, in front of me, was my big gift...
An Ironing Board!
P.S. I'm happy to report that John has become somewhat better at bestowing gifts. Not great, mind you, but better.