Saturday, November 20, 2010

Holiday Tales of Horror: Stuffed Couches and Stolen Chocolate

It wasn't premeditated, the chocolate theft. And know you love someone when you're willing to stuff your couch for their Christmas visit.

Let's go back in time.

Matthew and I were not married. After talking to each other on the phone for a few months we had met and dated in San Antonio, thanks to my sister Annie. Now I was back at my parent's home, preparing for Matthew to come up for our first Christmas together.

Dad and I were laughing hysterically together because I was up to my shoulder in the back of our overturned couch, trying to restuff it to an acceptable point of cushioning. It was well-used, or well-loved, if you'd rather. But I didn't think it had the right amount of oomph, so I was shoving old (clean, mind you) clothes into the back of it, so it wouldn't feel embarrassed when my beau showed up. If I had been smart I would have scented those clothes with lavender spritz from Bath and Body Works. Then while Matthew and I canoodled while sitting on its lumpy but cushy surface, he might suddenly say while staring deep into my eyes, "What is that heavenly scent my nostrils doeth detect in your presence?" I, of course, would answer, "It is me, and you are in love!"

It's funny that that is one of my best memories of those last few months in my parent's home-Dad and I laughing our heads off over the little details that matter so much when you're infatuated with someone, like a well-proportioned couch. That and the drive-by "neener-neener" while driving to church one morning, but that is a story for another day, I think.

Moving on, as Dick Van Dyke said in a certain movie (just guess).

The chocolate. Ah, the chocolate.

It arrived in a Christmas package from Virginia. A package full of thoughtful gifts from my big sister Vinca who always remembered everyone. This year she had remembered Matthew. She knew my guy was coming to Idaho for his first visit with our folks, so she had gotten him the best gift she could think of lacking a background check on him, a list of his childhood hobbies or a network of relatives to report on his daily habits. She had gotten him chocolate, and BRAVO! There is no better gift that says, "I don't know you, but you'd be a fool not to love this."

And I agree. But curiosity killed the chocolate-Dad's and my curiosity, you know. We just couldn't figure out why Vinca would send a gift to someone she didn't know and who wasn't an official part of the family. I mean, really, I hadn't actually married the guy yet...and even then Christmas gifts are kind of probationary for the first year or two.

So, anyway, Dad and I studied the rectangular package beneath the tree for a couple of days until we just couldn't stand it anymore.

"We should see what's in there," said Dad.

"I agree."

I don't remember who did the honors of peeling off the wrapping paper. We figured we'd just rewrap the dang thing anyway. We just wanted to see, that's all....

Oh, no-chocolate! It was a box of chocolates. From that moment I think we both knew what was going to happen, but we tried to be good and ignore our choco-foraging survival instincts.

We laid it carefully by on the kitchen bar. Just so we wouldn't forget it, you know.

"We'll just wrap it back up later," said Dad.

Sure, but until then we'd walk past it several times that day wondering what kind of fillings were in it. A cordial cherry or two, perhaps? Oooh, maybe a few truffles. And who doesn't like those little crunchy nut-flaked centers? Yum-yum. Was there any dark chocolate in the picture on the box?

"Matthew will never know," Dad said to me that evening.

"He wasn't expecting anything!" I responded loudly. "He doesn't even know Vinca. Maybe by name...." But a Vinca by any other name is still the sister of just a girlfriend.

Mom was there.

"Shame on you guys. Don't do it," she admonished. "Vinca sent that for Matthew. He needs presents under the tree, too."

"I got him something," I pointed out.

"I'll get him something," said Dad.

We looked at each other. Then we slid the choclate off the bar, ripped off the cellophane packaging, and while sitting on the newly over-stuffed couch together, pigged-out happily on our purloined chocolates. We had warm feelings for Vinca's thoughtfulness that day.

Did I tell Matthew about his absent gift? Not that Christmas, no. But a few years later when I suddenly remembered and had a good chuckle by our own Christmas tree. Okay, yes it was wrong. But wrong never tasted so sweet.


  1. Sooooo - you ratted me out, huh? And here I thought I was your favorite Dad. There is a rule of the universe, however, that I will ever obey - If chocolate is around, and no one has actually laid claim - then it's mine.

  2. You are my favorite dad, Papa, and that rule is a rule to live by.


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