Christmas morning is usually a time of magic, of romance, of joy and excitement. It’s a time when families connect around shared traditions and happiness. It’s usually a time when couples share tender glances over coffee and the delighted screams of children. A fire may be roaring in the fireplace, or gentle music playing in the background as the tree sparkles with all of the magic of Christmas.
I am a firm believer in the power of atmosphere to create a romantic mood. So, I wanted my wife and I’s first Christmas together to be perfect. The only downside was that we would have to get up much earlier to have a slow, romantic Christmas morning because we had church that morning. But I got to bed as early as possible after making sure all of Kristie’s gifts and stocking stuffers were tucked away in an easy-to-retrieve spot in my office. Anticipation made it hard to rest, but I tried my best.
Christmas morning arrived with a crack of light peeking through the darkness. I crept out of bed, threw on my soft gray robe and began setting the mood. I prepped for breakfast, which was going to be French toast royale. You should try it. It’s French toast covered with sliced bananas and doused with a cream cheese and maple syrup mixture that should only be legal on special occasions like this. I also, importantly, turned on the coffee pot. This was well before our Keurig ever became an integral part of our lives, so we had an old drip coffee maker that was on its last few legs and brewed quite slowly. But I added some special spices into the coffee to make the morning just that much more special while contributing a lovely rich smell to the house.
I rushed to my in-house office, which is really more a catch-all room, and grabbed the gifts and prepared them in a perfect balancing act of a heap in her usual spot on the couch. Once satisfied with this artistic feat of engineering, I turned on the tree, and placed our music into the stereo. Now, oddly enough, I have a very slow, gentle Celtic Christmas album that is quite soothing, followed by a slightly peppier instrumental album, and followed by Manheim Steamroller once things get rolling and everyone’s awake.
Now, the moment I have been waiting for. Like a prince in a Disney epic, I enter the room of the sleeping princess, and I tenderly place a kiss on her lips to awaken her from her rest. Her eyes flutter open, and I cheerfully say, “Merry Christmas!”
Now, in my preparation, I did not take into account whether or not to have a priest on standby for an emergency exorcism. I don’t know who responded to my, “Merry Christmas,” but it certainly wasn’t my beautiful, sweet, loving wife.
A deep, throaty growl summoned up from the bowels of hades itself roared out of my wife’s mouth, with a demanding, “What time is it?”
“A-about seven o’clock…” I stammered, endeavoring not to make any sudden movements for fear of retribution.
The voice replied with an aggressive growl, “Is the coffee ready?”
“Yes,” I said, keeping my tone and breathing level, making sure that this creature could sense no fear.
“I’ll be in there in a minute,” said the voice before my wife’s body rolled over under the covers. I backed away slowly, keeping my eyes on the small bundle of covers to make sure that no surprises would come from that quarter.
I sulked back into the living room, somewhat defeated, but still hopeful that the morning would be salvaged. After a few minutes, my wife stalked into the kitchen and prepared her coffee. She sipped it and the joined me in the living room, cradling the holy water that would banish the demon. She glanced at me and gave me a half-smile, and I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that I had escaped to live another day.
Moral of the story: Compromise and thoughtfulness are key to marriage. Another key is to be able to laugh together when things go slightly sideways and figure out a way to make things better. To be fair, the past four years I have come bearing prepared coffee to her night stand and have been much less energetically, obnoxiously cheerful in my Christmas greeting, and I have not heard the disturbing voice since.