Thursday, December 04, 2008

Many Christmases Ago...

We met the summer of 1977 (I may tell that story some other time)--actually we sort of already knew each other from high school, but had never spoken to each other. I met her parents for the first time that summer. Her father told her: "You will never date THAT!" Looking back, I can understand his sentiment/desire to protect his daughter from a very hairy, "hippy-looking" guy.

We didn't date for about six months, i.e. we weren't allowed to go anywhere alone, but her parents did allow me to come to their house. And so, for the next six months, we sat, watched TV, and sat. We were eventually allowed to go to the local Sonic and get something to drink, but we had to come right back to the house. Keep in mind now, I was in college and she was still in high school.

I went to school year-round, so I would come home on the weekends, spend most every moment at her house or follow her to the high school football games (she was a cheerleader), etc. We wrote to each other most every week, and talked on the phone when I had money for the pay phone (remember those?).

We talked about breaking up once...actually I was doing the talking, she did the crying. We didn't break up.

I graduated from college, started and shut down a graphic design/sign business with a buddy from school, then moved back to the town where we both grew up. I took a job with a sign company in Tulsa. She finished high school and took a job with an oil company in Tulsa, eventually becoming a systems administrator some years after we married, but I'm jumping ahead.

It was a Saturday, as I recall. We were going shopping for Levis for me; can't remember if she was looking for anytyhing in particular or not. The mall we were in also had a couple of jewelry stores and for whatever reason, we found ourselves in one of them...looking at wedding rings! By this time we had been dating a couple of years and her dad was over being REALLY mad about the situation and had settled on "resigned" at that point. We had talked about marriage, but really hadn't made any plans. There we were, two "kids" looking at wedding rings and both of us saying: "WOW! That's a lot of money!" I can't remember how long we were in the store, but when all was said and done, we had made a down payment on a wedding band for me and an engagement ring/wedding ring set for her...all three rings came to around $500. How in the world was I ever going to pay for that?!

We went home that day and honestly, I don't remember telling our parents about our purchase, but I'm sure we did. We didn't have a wedding date set or anything. Neither of us owned a home--in fact, we were both still living with our parents; but we had rings or at least the payment on rings for the time being.

By Christmas in 1979 I had made enough payments to get the engagement ring. I took it home, showed it my mom and then proceeded to wrap it. Now, I couldn't just wrap up the little box; she'd know what it was right away. So, I wrapped the ring box, put it inside a bigger box and wrapped it; put the bigger box inside a BIGGER box and wrapped it; then...put the BIGGER box inside a B I G G E R box. She'd never guess what I had gotten her.

I remember watching her open the present. She had no idea what was in that big box. Her family stood around and watched as she unwrapped and opened box after box until she got to the smallest one. By then, I could tell she was getting excited; so where her sisters. A little box that size could mean only one thing: WE'RE OFFICIALLY ENGAGED! She jumped up and down; there was a lot of squealing (that may have been me) and crying (I think that was her Dad).

In January, we purchased a 900 square foot house about a mile from her parent's home. I moved in and begin renovating it; she would come over evenings after work and we would paint and wallpaper what would become OUR home for the next 12 years. We were married on May 31, 1980.

NCA_12_SFBayWe live in a different town now; we have two boys--one in college, the other in Junior High, and a dog. She still wears the same engagement ring from 31 Christmases ago. I thought she was pretty then; I think she's pretty now. She says she hates to have her picture taken, but I do it anyway.

Merry Christmas, Sweetie! I love you.


nacotaco said...

Keith, a beautiful story.....79 I was married...things went fast for me....anyways a wonderful tribute to your wife!.....nancy

Keith said...

Nacotaco: She cried when she read it...then told me she was surprized I remembered so much! Sometimes men DO pay attention.

Baxter said...

Great story, Keith! God Bless you all! You REALLY ought to write a book. You have a great way of wording things.

Keith said...

Baxter: Thanks. The most amazing part of the story is that she's stayed through all the crud!

Heather said...

That's an absolutely beautiful story Keith. Thank you so much for sharing it with us, and for being such a great example of a strong and loving relationship.

Keith said...

Thanks, Heather. It scored me a few points, which is a pretty good deal!