A Living Year

The last time I bothered to send out a Christmas card was when I was single. I’d just moved to the Big City, and it felt like an incredibly grown-up thing to do. I hadn’t mailed one since. But Marty changed all that.

The fact that I lovingly refer to him as The Postmaster and my first gift to him was a postal scale should give you an idea of his affection for the United States Postal Service. For Marty, mailing a thank you note to one of his dozens of friends peppering the country is serious business, and there are very few days in a week that don’t include a trip to the post office or our neighborhood drop box.

With crowds of gift packages and boxes making their way to our front door, Marty and I celebrated our first anniversary this weekend.

  “I can’t believe how easy our first year has been,” I marveled.

“Well, that temper of yours sure has kept me off balance,” he replied, with a half smile lurking on his lips.

I burst into laughter. “I guess that’ll teach me to be so overconfident,” I said, inwardly pledging to work on channeling my anger in more positive ways in the coming year.

Holding hands, we spent more than a little time looking back at the last 365 days–days of getting to know the ins and outs of each other, of wandering museums, of flying across country to introduce Marty to my family and friends, of arguing over the right time to have the groceries delivered and the wrong time to invite people over, of sitting down to about a hundred home cooked meals in front of our favorite TV show and driving through about as many fast food drive-thrus. 

Sunday afternoon, we took a trip to the Hallmark Gold Crown store in the center of Omaha’s bustling Lakeside Plaza to choose the first Christmas cards we’ll send together. To get me back in the rhythm of this nearly lost art, Marty bought me a box of holiday cards last year. They sported a 1950s vintage red pickup with a Douglas Fir thrown in the back and a sentimental holiday wish for my friends and family inside.

With a list of about fifty lucky recipients between us, Marty and I, each armed with his miniature shopping cart, strolled aisles stuffed with holiday knick knacks to the back of the store where rows of holiday greetings lined gray metal shelves.

After a minute or two of negotiation, we decided on four boxes containing eighteen pieces of card stock embossed with gold letters, glittering snow globes, and an errant sleigh or two. As Marty placed them in his cart, I felt tears sting my eyes. Grasping his arm, I said, “I’m glad we did this. It’s made me very happy.”

Looking back on it later, I don’t think I was crying simply because buying Christmas cards is a couple’s thing to do. I cried because this wasn’t a year of sitting back and waiting for something to happen.  It wasn’t a year to stand by and wonder. It was a year for grabbing hold and moving forward. Made up of days for taking chances and building a new life together, it was a living year. 



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