One Gold Ring
Twenty authors had the pleasure of reading their stories to the community on two wintery evenings. It was a welcome change from a focus on shopping and more what the holiday season can mean. I was honored to be one of the authors whose remembrance of a time past to read.
One Gold Ring
“Wouldn’t you like a new one, Mom?” Her dull wedding ring reminded me of the metal band on the leg of the fresh turkey in a box outside on the porch waiting to become Christmas dinner.
“Mine’s just fine,” she said, twisting it around her finger. I had seen her pause at the case of rings all shiny and golden as we passed through the jewelry department. “I’m not keeping up with the Joneses.”
I knew she was thinking of the mothers’ club ladies who came in fur coats and had twinkling diamond rings. I wasn’t convinced since she slowed down to glance again at the rings before we left the store.
When I told Dad that Mom had lingered at the jewelry counter, it didn’t take too much nudging on my part plus a bit of guilt to get him to agree with me. Even if he and Mom didn’t exchange presents anymore, I thought he should surprise her.
“She wants a band,” I said, “wide and gold.” Dad and I had gone on a secret shopping mission and were standing at the jewelry counter.
“Your daughter’s right,” said the salesgirl sliding open the door of the large, glittering case of rings. “That’s what the ladies want these days.” We looked at several and then Dad pointed right to the one I liked.
“That one?” he asked, looking at me for my vote.
“Perfect,” I said.
“Yes, a very good choice.” The saleswoman gave Dad an approving nod. He caught the spirit of the holiday and sprang for a velvet box and gift wrapping.
On the drive home from the store, I started to sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me. I sang alone and then paused at “On the fifth day . . .” long enough for Dad to look over at me.
“Wait. Here’s a new version. On the fifth day of Christmas my Dad gave my Mom one gold ring.” Dad laughed and in his best, tuneless voice joined in. We started over and sang the whole song with my new lyrics for the fifth day.
On Christmas morning Mom was surprised when I handed her the little box from under the tree. “It’s from Dad to you,” I said, waiting for Dad to say something but he just smiled and looked a little shy.
“Oh, Dorsey,” Mom said, with so much happiness her voice twinkled like the glitter on the paper when she opened the box and saw the ring.
“Put it on her finger, Dad,” I said, imagining what the scene should look like based on the movies I’d seen. Dad got up out of his chair, slipped it on Mom’s finger, and stepped back. I said until death do us part to myself and hoped they remembered too.
“It’s beautiful,” Mom said, looking up at Dad and then over at me. “Thank you. Both of you.”
With the ring presentation concluded, per my Hollywood directing at age ten, I pointed to the mistletoe I’d hung in the archway of the living room. “Yay,” I said and clapped as they blushed and kissed on the lips.
This was the best Christmas ever.
This is your life. You are responsible for it. You will not live forever. Don’t wait.
– Natalie Goldberg
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