One of the best things about being a married man is the fact that every single day holds the possibility for new and unexpected adventures. Living in proximity to a creature so unique and so different from myself keeps me from falling asleep behind the wheel of life.
For me, being married is sort of like visiting from out of town on a near daily basis. Things tend to be refreshed regularly, redecorated, furniture shifted, and I usually have to ask the hotel manager where I can find what I need.
I was recently putting up decorations for Isaac’s birthday party, and a conversation similar to the following ensued:
“I need thumb tacks”
“Ok, here is what you need to do…” Right away, I wish I had a pen and paper.
“Go upstairs.” Easy enough.
“Go into the laundry room.” Uh oh.
“In the laundry room, there is a table with a shelf beneath.” I can’t help but feel like I’ve just slipped into a version of Lord of the Rings, and she is transforming into Gandalf the wizard, preparing to lay out directions to The Forest of Elrond.
“Upon the shelf beneath the table, you will find a basket.”
“The tacks are in the basket?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. In the basket, you will find a key with a silver shaft. Take this key into the bedroom closet.” REALLY uh oh.
“In the closet, behind the sacred row of sweaters, there is another door…”
You get my drift. I am choosing a tongue-in-cheek way of describing it, but my point here is that marriage is, when you choose to open your eyes to see it, a grand adventure. As I embark into the chapter of life entitled “2012”, I find myself reflecting upon all the ways that my wife – fellow protagonist in this grand story – has impacted the direction I’ve taken and enriched my existence.
Carrie calls herself “Ms. Christmas”, and the title is very appropriate. Every year, the week of Thanksgiving, Ms. Christmas waves her wand, and the house becomes magical. Miniature Colonial Christmas houses with lights adorn the tops of kitchen cabinets, garland encases the banisters, and twinkling lights pop up everywhere. Of course, Ms. Christmas desires lights on the outside of the house, and that’s where I come in. The outside decorating never comes without an ample amount of complaining and foot stomping on my part, and those who know me, know enough to stay clear as I am fighting those blasted knotted strings of frustration, but the look on her face and those on the faces of our kids when they see the house decorated is worth a thousand tangled knots and broken bulbs and searches for this or that lawn ornament. And without her in my life, I’d never lift a finger; my kids would miss out. So would I.
When Carrie and I started dating, I used to tell her she fascinated me. She would always laugh and tell me that one day I would realize there isn’t much to her, and I’d find myself saying, “This is it??” After ten years of marriage and two kids, I think I am more fascinated than I was at the start. What drives this creature? What motivates her to make things happen? I believe I’ve started to crack the surface of this conundrum.
Carrie finds delight in seeing others delighted. It appears to me that it moves her into much of what she does and is probably the reason she loves Christmas so much. She loves to buy presents for people, and not in a way that she’s simply relieved to fulfill her traditional obligations, but in a way that frequently finds her deep in thought over what a loved one might truly appreciate. I’ve never known a person who puts more energy into giving gifts.
For me, this has played out in a most profound way. Carrie knows the things that delight me most. She knows (or has an idea) the depth of joy I receive from writing, so she encouraged me to start writing a book, which I doubt I ever would have tried were it not for her. She also knows how playing music enlivens my soul, so she encouraged me through my resistance to start playing again. These are the adventures I find myself in thanks to her, thanks to Ms. Christmas.
As 2012 ensues, I pray that God may inspire me to be a little bit of Mr. Christmas for her.
Happy New Year, my dear.