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Dec 24, 2020

Contemporary Holiday Romance

Hello everyone, I'm Verdie Feldt. I am so pleased to be speaking with your today via Zoom about one of the most joyous yet tremulous events of my recent life. This afternoon, I will share with you the intricacies that encompassed my engagement proposal for Christmas 2020. I now wonder at my surprise, given the erratic rhythm of this past year.

I invite you to close your eyes, picture a tree full of garland, blinking with white lights, boughs bursting with bobbles of every shape, sheen, all in tints, tones of currant, crimson, cherry. My mother, Eudora, demonstrates giftedness with traditional Christmas colours. 

The air heavy with scents of fir, cinnamon, cloves mingles with the sounds of saxes and seasonal jazzy songs, tickling your eardrums. Roasted goose, root vegetables tease your palate, while Eudora's charcuterie board accompanied by mulled wine tames your appetite. 

Eudora practices an 'open-door' dinner invite for Christmas, now that my dad watches from Heaven along with Nana, my brother Phil; their empty chairs welcome extended family and friends instead. 

I receive the first text jingling on my phone at 13:00.

Verdie, my beloved gal

Will you share your life with me

Make my dreams a reality.

A.P.

My heart racing pitter-pat, my mind meandering through file folders to discover who A.P. was — August, Adam, Aaron, Abraham, Anton? 

The pealing doorbell interrupts my thinking. I walk absentmindedly to the door, my face framed with a frown. There, on the stoop, I eye a dressed box labelled as a present for me from 'Secret Santa,' aka A.P. 

Ripping off the paper, uncovering one box, then a box texted in the box, then a box nested in the nested box, all the way to a palm-sized container in which I unfold a note in calligraphy.

My darling Verdie

A self-care package

Just for you

To enhance your features

I adore you!

A.P.

P.S.: In each special, spot we have enjoyed

You will discover, uncover 

Another tiny token.

Beneath the stairs, I uncover two spa certificates with wishes for a release of all stress from my realm.

In the glove box of my turquoise mini, two tickets to a favourite musician promise to bring melody to me.

Taped to the bottom of my childhood swing, spectacular silkscreened scarf incorporating each of my favourite colours.

My heart racing pitter-pat, my mind meandering through file folders to discover who A.P. was — August, Adam, Aaron, Abraham, Anton?

Confusion spills through my system, so I seek peace by shoving my nose in my current read, were nestled like a silver bookmark, I spy a CD compilation of Christmas carols I hold near and dear, all compiled by a secretive A.P.

My heart racing pitter-pat, my mind meandering through file folders to discover who A.P. was — August, Adam, Aaron, Abraham, Anton?

Listening to these tunes, I savour the world created in my novel, turning the page, ending a chapter, when out flitters a photograph of an ornament, captioned with, 'One day this will be on our married tree — a treasure from my mom and dad. Much love, A.P.'

A smile caresses my lips as I contemplate how incongruous it would appear within my mother's traditional colour scheme, being a bluish blend of lapis, cerulean and teal, when my gaze captured this bauble upon a branch.

My heart racing pitter-pat, my mind meandering through file folders to discover who A.P .was — August, Adam, Aaron, Abraham, Anton?

Feeling as if a belt is tightening my head, I scavenge in my humungous purse, looking for tablet relief, pulling out a gilded atomizer, perfect for my bureau, the tag reading from A.P.

My heart racing pitter-pat, my mind meandering through file folders to discover who A.P. was — August, Adam, Aaron, Abraham, Anton?

As the grandfather clock ding dongs 18:00, the stillness, the emptiness evaporates, replaced by chit-chatter, bodies on furniture, curled on cushions, the music muted. 

I sip deeply from my third aperitif, surreptitiously observing August, Adam, Aaron, Abraham, and Anton, still uncertain who among them is my intended beau, my shy proposer. 

Upon hearing the bells tinkle, my reverie breaks. The table is resplendent, the heirloom crystal, silver and china adorning each place setting, candles flickering, casting a warm, welcoming glow on the congregation.

Place card designates the seating arrangement; I find myself between two distant cousins, looking across from Auntie Bev and Uncle Smythe, far removed from August, Adam, Aaron, Abraham and Anton. Why on earth Eudora invited all of them escapes my understanding.

Snapping open the cracker, a sparkling diamond ring clinks on my plate — the dime store outdoing themselves with the enclosed prizes. A small scroll lands on my fork. 

Unfolding the scroll, my eyes scan:

Each love history has charm

Ours is my preferred

Will, you wed me?

Emotion film my sight, tears dropping unheeded down my cheek, splotching the damask cloth where my engagement ring rests. 

I raise my head, noticing at once that August, Adam, Aaron, Abraham and Anton stand by the picture window, arrayed like a choir. 

They open their arms, beckoning me to sit on a chair, positioned facing them. 

My legs wobble as I walk towards them. Just as my bottom touches the upholstery, I catch the faint notes from a song, one particular song, playing on a first date, with only one of these men.

Etta James' voice rolls over the room, her silken tone touching my core, Gordon Mack and Harry Warren's words and music reverberating through my soul. 

At last…

I accept his hand, our bodies entwining, melding together as we circumnavigate the room, wholly enclosed in our paradise.

"You had help, I see, my love."

"Who knows you better than them?"

"Mmm."

"What's your answer?"

"Yes, yes, yes, forever and a day."

As the song ends, I raise my head from his shoulder, immersed in his muskiness. 

"So it's not a dime-store diamond!"

"No, my darling, far from it. I snatched my dear Grand-mom's engagement ring. "

So, ladies and gentlemen, that ends my oral memoir. Married life is idyllic, my husband is ideal, what more could I ask. I can take any questions.

I sip some of the tepid water in the goblet on the lecture, eyeing the lineup at each microphone.

I acknowledge a petite woman, her purple rinsed hair reminding me of Nana replete in her matched sweater set and pearls.

"Verdie, you have to tell us who did you choose."

"Hmmm, well, since you asked, my husband is AP."

A collective groan rises from the seats.

"Anton Portrail is my chosen beau."

With a flourish, I flash my divine diamond, an equally bright smile upon my face.

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