Noche Bueno – I

Marietta looked through the clear spots in the sleet-frozen window. Lots of snow out there. This was, because of the timing, both her first Christmas as a wife and her baby’s first Christmas. Bianca was little more than a month old, and her marriage nine months older than the baby. She put hung the dish towel on the oven handle and the dish drainer under the sink. Then she walked into the living room to look at the tree.

She saw the Christmas tree the same way that she looked at the baby and her husband; she saw them more as they would be in the future than as they were now. She imagined a large tree with paper chains, ornaments made by the children (in spite of there only being one child at the moment), ornaments to remind them of places they went over the years, people they knew, memorable occasions, etc. For now there was an ornament to remind them of their honeymoon in Chicago, a glass bootie that said Baby’s First Christmas, and a few from their own childhoods that their mothers begrudgingly parted with. She bought some glass ornaments from Woolworth’s as well as some tinsel. The tree was beautiful in its own way, as a symbol of potential.

She went over to the record player and put on the Bing Crosby album. Then she picked up Bianca and showed her the tree. Marietta told her daughter about some of her Christmases past. She talked about the year her mother put the Christmas tree in the spaghetti pot, and every time someone shut the front door even remotely hard, the tree fell over, until they finally tied it to the window. Then there was the time that the kitten got stuck in the tree, and her father tried to get the kitten out by enticing it with a little piece of cheese. After that, the kitten got stuck in the tree at least once or twice a day, and in fact tried to get stuck in it the next few years as well. There was that one Christmas, when she was seven or eight, when they all went to the store and talked to Santa. Her brother cried a lot, after spending a month being told that Santa knew if he was a good boy or not. It wasn’t a pleasant visit to the jolly old elf.

Louis came over and put his arm around his small family. He told his daughter of his own Christmases Past. He remembered being an altar boy for Mass on Christmas Eve, and how magical the church seemed that night. There were the presents he made for his mother, and his last Christmas with his father. Louis and Marietta sang Silent Night together, and talked about what they would give each other if they had all the money in the world. Louis would give Marietta a beautiful piano, the shiny black kind with the lid that stays open. Marietta would get Louis a beautiful car, the shiny red kind with the lid that stays open. For the baby, if they had the money, they’d get her a proper crib. Still, they were pleased with the presents that were under the tree, and glad to be together.

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