We made love that Christmas Eve, on the floor in front of the roaring fire we had started in the fireplace. Peaches and Muffin were unsure what was going on, and kept their distance. It was a time before cancer, and it was a time when the miracle of Christmas seemed so real to both of us.
I had picked up rib tips from Space Aliens late that afternoon, and after we left the party at the Puetz house, kitty corner from our house on Mandan Street, we went home and after we got comfortable, we put on the Christmas music that rang throughout our house for the whole month, opened a bottle of wine, actually two, Chardonnay for her, Pinot Noir for me, and sat back to reflect on Christmas past.
We were still burning wood in our fireplace, even though it was not practical to do so, since we didn’t have a way to seal off the fire, only a screen, we couldn’t close the damper until the fire had died completely. We didn’t care that night. That night it was only Joanie and me, and we were in love.
Our house was full of lights, snow globes I brought every year, that reflected all of the lights, a tree laden with all of the ornaments she had inherited from her folks, and there were candles everywhere. It was one of those nights when you believe that miracles are possible, if only you choose to believe. Then there was the music, the music of the season that I had been collecting over the years.
There were presents under the tree. Presents we wouldn’t open until Christmas morning because that’s the way we had grown up. They just sat there in their colorful, sparkly wrapped glory, all contributing to the wonder of the Christmas Eve spell we were under that night.
It was a long way from that night to Christmas Eve of 2007, but it was not far from our memories.
Joanie had been doing well during the month. She had been involved in getting the Hoeven Christmas card done and mailed, and was busy, doing lunch with her friends and making sure I had all of her Christmas candy made, and that I had enough made for delivery to all of her friends. I did, and it was something I didn’t mind doing. It was also my job on Christmas Eve afternoon to make the rounds and deliver boxes of the candy to those on her list who had not received theirs yet.
We had long ago stopped burning wood in our fireplace, and that night, we didn’t have rib tips from Space Aliens. We had chosen instead to do cheese, sausage, Triscuit and wine. Joanie was still taking pain medication, and we knew she had to be careful about mixing the wine with the meds, but we knew moderation wasn’t going to hurt.
Everything in the house that could be lit up was. It was not a Christmas Eve we were used to. The tree had only a few strings of lights on it, and there were no lights around the windows. The wreath above the fireplace was lit, but nothing else. Neither of us had mustered the energy to do it as we had done so many times before. Besides, what really mattered this night, was that we were together, along with Bailey and Brandy.
As we sat there that night, bathed in the candlelight and blinking tree lights, we began to remember those past Christmas Eves. The wine helped, and Joanie began to loosen up. We both knew, this might be our last Christmas, but neither one of us said a word about that possibility. Tonight was not the night for such discussions. Tonight was for remembering better times, more wonderful Christmas Eves, and letting the memories wash over us and warm us.
When one of our favorite songs from our holiday collection, Paul Winter’s “Tomorrow is My Dancing Day,” came on, we remembered that night a long time ago, on the floor in front of a roaring fire on a magical Christmas Eve.
I asked Joanie if she remembered that night, and she thought for a moment, and this smile came to her face that told me everything I needed to know. She blushed slightly when I told her it was her idea that we bring blankets out and put them on the floor, since the fire was going to linger for hours and we might as well take advantage of it.
She looked away from me, as if she was seeing the scene in her mind, and told me it must have been the wine. It may have been, but that night, with “Tomorrow is My Dancing Day” playing on the stereo, we lay down on the blankets in front of the fire and made love like we were the only people on this night of nights that understood the magic of that Christmas Eve so long ago.
This night, so many years later, as I reminded her, she smiled a smile of someone who remembered what was important about this holiday season.
Then, as the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, one of our favorites, came on the stereo with “Music Box Blues,” we didn’t make love on the floor, we didn’t have to. We just held each other because that was all that mattered.