We had just begun dating. G and I were enjoying our first Christmas together. Why is everything so much more vivid when a relationship is new? It was Florida and the sun was shining but it might as well have been a Norman Rockwell setting complete with snow and jingle bells.
I was Christmas shopping for my daughter. As a single mom with no child support, I was on a tight budget. G tagged along as I walked the department store aisles. With his GPS system on full alert, we found ourselves in the leather goods/luggage/expensive games section. Backgammon was G’s second greatest passion. He gently caressed a $300 leather cased backgammon set. I was happy he was happy holding it, because it was NOT going to happen. He looked at me with big brown puppy dog eyes. I admired a lesser game set. $125 and nothing to sneeze at. I patted it, committing it to memory.
The following week we placed all the gifts under the tree. The $125 backgammon set was wrapped, bowed, and tagged for G. I didn’t think he would be disappointed. He knew I struggled to keep my daughter in the style to which she had come to expect. I had weighed the possibility of the $300 set but couldn’t justify it. It was only a game. It was a new relationship. I would have had to charge it. No. I ruled it out as I stood at the counter two days after he had fondly fondled it.
My daughter opened her Santa gifts, shrieking with delight. I opened the noodle necklace she had made for me. I praised the balsa wood picture frame decorated with sea shells. I thanked G for the silky nightwear, and tucked it discreetly back into the box.
And then G opened the backgammon box. I had wrapped it with care, double knotting the bows and gluing stars and snowmen on the corners. I wish at that point in time someone had taken a picture of my face. I would have loved to have seen what I looked like. G opened the package. There sat the $300 backgammon set. I thought for a moment that I had had a stroke. Did I space out at the register and buy the more expensive set? G thanked me with a big hug and kiss. I couldn’t read him. Did he switch the games or had I lost my mind?
Two months later he confessed to being his own Secret Santa. It was a sign of things to come.