Before my husband and I were married, we moved in together. Scandalous, I know.

We had just graduated from university. I was selling lingerie at the mall for a lump of coal every other Friday and doing data entry on a seasonal basis for Revenue Canada tax returns (may I never have another government job). He was driving across town at all hours (shift work) to sort packages at the UPS warehouse. Thank God the brown uniforms are so sexy. We had nothing but each other and a slightly squalid apartment carpeted in green shag. The place also overlooked a marvelous graveyard. But at least the neighbours were quiet.

For our first Christmas together, we smuggled a real tree up in the elevator (I don’t believe we were allowed to have one) and erected it on the shag in our living room. We’d splurged on a few boxes of cheap glass balls and some lights. A week before the Big Day, we decorated our tree with great delight.

We had also bought our first commemorative ornament. It was a hollow ball with a clear plastic front. Inside you could see a tiny living room, decorated for Christmas: a tree, fireplace with stockings hung, a window with snow falling, and a couple sitting on a couch. When you plugged it in to one of the light sockets, the fireplace flickered to orange life. If it was depressing that an ornament displayed a nicer room than the one we were living in, I didn’t notice.

When I look at the pictures from that Christmas, the tree so sparsely decorated and the young version of ourselves looking so pleased, I can see behind us our first decoration hung upon the tree.

And last week, when I pulled out that ball, with the words “Our First Christmas Together, 19 (none of your business)” printed on it, I was reminded of that time. Those days at the start of our lives when all it took to make us happy was being with each other.

Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates!

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