Christmas 1981 was easily the best one ever for me. It was the Christmas that I proposed to my bride.
I wanted to ask her that Christmas but every time I thought about it I got the shakes and cold feet. Then one day in early December, while I was back in Portales for the weekend, my little sister grilled me about whether or not I was buying a certain someone a ring for Christmas.
I couldn’t take it anymore and as soon as I got back to Tucumcari I proposed. I think it went something like this: “Would you accept an engagement ring as a Christmas present dear?”
She said yes and we went down to the jewelry store a few days before Christmas to pick out a ring. I realized later I didn’t spend as much on the ring as I should have but we were both happy and in love and Christmas was ahead of us. Besides I had bought her a diamond for Christmas and all she got me was a pair of racquetball shoes.
We told my wife’s parents on the night of the 23rd when they dropped by her apartment after church on Wednesday night. The announcement stunned her dad so greatly that he couldn’t say anything for several moments. The only thing he could think to say was: “Isn’t it about time for ‘Dynasty’?”
We spent Christmas Eve at her folks’ house and by then had the ring and her dad had recovered enough that we all had a great time.
After breakfast with her parents, we drove to Portales on Christmas morning to be with my folks by dinner. We were to have the gift exchange before we ate and I told my newly betrothed to keep the ring hand in her pocket until everyone got gathered and then we would announce the engagement. The suspense was driving my family crazy because they somehow knew what was up. My dad tried several times to get that ring hand out of her pocket with no success.
We had a great day that day after the announcement, me in my new racquetball shoes and her with a glitter to her finger.
The next day being Saturday, we had time to load up everyone, including my grandmother, and travel to my aunt’s in Snyder, Texas, where my future wife’s official acclimation to the family began. Seems she wasn’t accustomed to a holiday where you had to squeeze through the card tables in the living room set up to play 42 and the seriousness of the gaming going on there.
That night the bunch of seven or eight of us rented two motel rooms with double beds. Yes we had a girls’ room and a boys’ room and my future bride drew grandmother as a bed partner.
I told her some day we would look back on that week and laugh. Thirty years later our sides are splitting.