SURPRISE #1: The Invitation
A day after our actual Christmas dinner at my parents' house, I went to a second Christmas dinner at my wife's new house. She's invited me so hesitantly, as though she thought I would say "No." She said that the kids would like it if I was there.
I was shocked to have been invited .... I didn't think that I would ever see the inside of her house in my lifetime. It really speaks to how friendly things have become between us that I was invited at all.
I arrived with one of the kids who'd been staying with me, carrying the dessert I'd offered to bring, feeling as nervous as a virgin on his wedding night. Luckily, she'd invited some close friends who served to act as a buffer against potential unpleasantness. There was none. It was great to have her look at me without hatred and bitterness in her eyes and to have a normal sort of conversation.
I had mixed feelings looking at some of my favourite pieces of furniture (owned by her prior to our marriage) in their new surroundings and seeing the sweet little dog she acquired since our separation. I reminded myself sternly that it was all just "stuff" and was nothing I couldn't live without or easily replace. In fact, her small house was crammed with far too much "stuff" which just adds stress. Watching my wife cook the turkey dinner (she rarely cooked during our marriage), I suddenly realized that I missed her set of professional-grade cookware (also owned by her prior to marriage) far more than I missed her.
|My side yard this morning|
I felt an overwhelming sadness at the fact that my kids were starting to consider this place "home" .... and this most definitely excluded me. It strengthened my resolve to make our new waterfront home just as much a home for them. Layered over that was an admiration for my wife who, despite all the drama and emotional difficulties, was starting to move towards an exciting new life.
SURPRISE #2: The Present
In the weeks prior to Christmas, I'd been asking the kids if their mother was getting me a Christmas present but they didn't know. I doubted that she would. As our marriage deteriorated over the years, her Christmas presents to me became meaner and meaner. For our last Christmas together (last year) her present to me was a door lock, to replace the worn-out lock on our front door. Whoopee!!
To be on the safe side, I brought her a modest, non-personal gift..... a house plant in a clay urn for a total value of $25.00.
In return, my wife transferred $1,000 into my account from a very modest inheritance she's received with the instructions that I MUST buy a laptop computer, my first new computer ever She might have motivated partly from guilt or pressure from the kids because I'd been using the bashed-up family laptop (8 years old) while she' had a new Mac. Still, I was overwhelmed by the gesture and by her generosity.
The next morning, I joined the 5:30 am mob * at the Future Shop's Boxing Day "door crasher sale" and got a great deal on a laptop. Since I had money left over, I picked up an external hard drive for each of us. All I can say is, "Wow!."
* Of the many hundreds of people lined up for the sale, the largest demographic consisted of tousle-haired, scruffy-faced, absolutely adorable young men in their 20s and 30s. They were all in amazingly tight(ish) jeans or track pants. Do they have any idea how irresistible they are? They were there to scoop up bargains on gaming systems and flat-screen TVs. I was just consumed with impure thoughts the whole time..... an unexpected bonus at that God-forsaken hour.