If you’re reading this in our Tennessee paper, today is KM’s birthday, but I’m writing it a week before so I still have plenty of shopping days left. Speaking of shopping, I probably wouldn’t mind it so much if I were the only one out doing it, but as the song sings, “the traffic is terrific.”
KM isn’t too difficult to shop for. She loves to read so there are always books. Last year one of the kids got her the “Humans of New York” book. Being human and having spent lots of time in Gotham, KM loved it. There is a new one out this Christmas so that’s an option.
I was trying to remember what I got her that first Christmas we were together, back in 1975. She got me this great gold lighter. When it’s your first Christmas together, the gift needs to be something pretty nice, better than a book anyway. But I don’t remember what I gave her. I probably won’t ask her if she remembers though, just in case it was a book.
What I do remember from that Christmas was that it snowed on Christmas Eve, quite a bit actually. I had been to her house that night for dinner and gift opening. We had been dating since the 4th of July so I think I’d met most everyone by then. That might sound odd, but when you’re the youngest of 10, like KM, the getting acquainted process can take some time. Back in those days she had two brothers who lived in Texas and a sister in West Memphis. Peggy, her other sister, could have been anywhere as her husband Mike was climbing the military rank ladder for the U.S Army.
Actually, the only sibling of KM’s who was still living at home back then was her brother Don, who had just graduated from the University of Dallas and was on his way to far away lands he wanted to see before settling down.
I had never met Don when I went to pick up KM for our first official date (there had been a couple of unofficial ones, unofficial because there were other friends of ours who were slow in getting the hint that I wanted to be alone with her. They finally did though, after I gathered them up and told them all at once, “I want to be alone with her”).
I knocked on the door and Don answered. He had been a senior at Catholic when I was a freshman, so we’d never bonded. He answered the door and I said something brilliant like, “Hi, I’m Jay, here to get Kathy.” He promptly slammed the door in my face. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Back to our first Christmas Eve, I think it started snowing when I left her house that night around ten. By the time I got home, a few miles away, the hill that was our street was covered and the snow wasn’t letting up.
Our plan had been to go with her mother, Margaret, to midnight mass at their church, Immaculate Conception. But when I pulled onto our driveway, my brothers were already coming from around the side of our house dragging a couple of seldom-used sleds. This was going to be great. I went inside and called KM, telling her my parents didn’t want me driving in the snow, and that I was sorry I’d miss the midnight mass with mother.
“Do you want us to pick you up?”
“We can come get you.”
I had nothing and blurted out the first thing I thought of.
“No, they don’t want me riding in the snow either.” (Cringe!)
The conversation ended pretty quickly after that.
Happy birthday honey.
Jay Edwards is editor-in-chief of the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.