Merry Christmas from The Bubble Joy! When you are a child, Christmas is magical. When you are a parent, Christmas is magical. But for those who are neither, Christmas can be tricky. It requires more effort to capture the spirit of the season. This, my husband and I learned together during our first Christmas back in our salad days. And the manner in which we learned this lesson inspired a collection in the shop.
Side note: I come across quite badly in this story. My mother-in-law, who recently started subscribing to this blog, is going to read this post and then spend the afternoon whispering to herself, "I knew it. I knew it!"
My husband and I were three months married and living in Michigan. He was attending grad school and I worked retail, which meant low pay and no time off to travel back to Illinois to see our families. This made me anxious -- our first Christmas together, just the two of us -- because I hadn't yet figured out that when he was with me, I was home.
He picked me up from work late on Christmas Eve. We planned to stop at the store for a couple of ingredients to liven up the lone pound of ground beef in our fridge. Tacos maybe. We had exactly $25 to last until payday.
At the market, he grabbed taco shells and I wandered away towards the iceberg lettuce. But I was distracted by a sign advertising crab legs on special. "How romantic!" I thought. We could steam a pile, spread out some newspaper, melt some butter, and crack away, licking fingers, laughing, enjoying something new for us both. I asked the fishmonger for enough crab legs for two.
He handed me a package. On it, the sticker read $23. I gulped. But the store was closing and I hurried to the checkout. My husband saw the package and the price and looked at me like I was crazy. "It's Christmas Eve!" I said. "Let's splurge!" He gently shook his head. "Just this once!" I insisted. He shook his head again. The checkout girl waited. The lady behind us watched. The manager was shutting off the lights in the back. Finally, with cheeks burning, I walked back to the fish counter and returned the crab legs while he paid for our corn shells.
Outside, as we walked in a horrible sideways rain through the parking lot, we argued. I angrily accused him of lacking a sense of adventure and then strode off into the miserable night, leaving him standing at the car, baffled at my reaction. I walked fast in my high heels, fuming about his sensible pragmatism, all the while watching over my shoulder for him to pull up behind me in the car. He didn't.
After a mile, my indignant stomp gave way to a regretful walk and then finally a shameful soggy trudge. I was mortified at my behavior and couldn't wait to get home to apologize.
Two hours later, when I did arrive home, our parking spot was empty and our apartment was cold and dark. And empty.
I dried off and waited. Another agonizing hour went by and I thought about calling the police. Or my mother. This was the era before answering machines, much less cell phones. I was pacing the hallway when he finally burst through the door.
Being a kind and patient man, he had indeed come after me with the car. However, due to rotten visibility, he drove over a curb where the car became stuck, seesawing back and forth in the rain. He had to walk to a pay phone and then, this being Christmas Eve, he had to wait hours for the tow truck. Which cost, you guessed it, exactly $25.
I forgave him the walk in the rain and he forgave me the tow truck. We cooked our ground beef and ate it in corn shells with diced tomatoes and iceberg lettuce. The meal looked downright Christmas-y. But since then, we do love eating crustaceans on Christmas Eve. Nothing against tacos, but we have earned our crab legs. And that is why I think this collection is perfect for newlyweds or anyone who wants a romantic dinner with their better half.
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