When I was a young girl, I bought into the idea that “real love” was demonstrated by the grandiose gestures of diamonds and carriage rides. According to the movies and cheap romance novels (that I sneaked because they were banned in our house), the man always had the perfect compliment. The woman never struggled with her self-esteem. And, oddly, children were never around to mess up a moment of good passion. I thought I knew what love looked like on an ordinary day, not just the extraordinary days. Then, I grew up, fell in love, and entered reality.
On Thanksgiving afternoon, my younger daughter and my husband began the annual holiday excavation. Together they uncovered and slid and pushed and carried boxes and boxes of Christmas decorations from the attic. The center of the garage was soon filled with towers of boxes that would transform our home into a Christmas wonderland. It took a couple of hours to pull everything down. The garage was cold; the attic was colder. Neither complained. They were enjoying their time together, just the two of them, working as a team. That’s what love looks like on an ordinary day.
As the boxes were shuffled about, C and I worked in the kitchen. It would be our first traditional Thanksgiving feast in over a dozen years– so many years, A doesn’t remember ever having one. Many years ago, in response to “What would you like on Thanksgiving?” my husband replied, “I don’t want you in the kitchen. Let’s just do appetizers all day.” It was the same the following year, and the year after that. And, a new tradition was born. For years, we have gathered in the living room over appetizers, games and puzzles. This year though, we decided to change things up and we gathered over turkey and mashed potatoes at a formally set dining table. The girls wanted to do it, “the way Grandma would have done it.” A change which gave me the gift of some time alone with C, my almost grown daughter, who will be starting her own traditions someday soon. It was time to talk about college and the future and relationships and…life. That’s what love looks like on an ordinary day.
Yesterday, my husband, quiet as a Christmas mouse, began the stringing of the lights. Every year, he strings lights up and down the front of the house. He strings them across the backyard fence and across the cottage roof-line. He decorates the small deck off the dining room and places lighted decorations along the paths and in the died-off garden so that when I look out the window, I “get a pretty view, too. Not just the neighbors.” He drags his ladder to and fro without so much as a whimper of complaint. He does it because he knows I like the lights. And, as he unwound, tested, and hung the lights, the girls and I unpacked boxes and reminisced and laughed together. Together, we prepared for the Christmas holiday. That’s what love looks like on an ordinary day.
Last night, my husband and I were scheduled for some “date time” while the girls had plans for some fun “sister time.” (I love that they’re not just sisters, but truly best friends!) Leftovers sat on the counter, self-service buffet style. My battery was running low, the muscles in my back ached, and my head was toying with a headache. I sipped on a strong cup of coffee with the intention of actually being present during our date. In the other room, the girls and my husband watched an episode of “Psych” together. The coffee wasn’t working, but given the amount of coffee I am known to consume in a day, this should have been no surprise. I asked my husband if he would mind if I took a 20 minute cat-nap on the couch before we headed out. No objections, and despite the TV noise, I went out faster than I can type “o-u-t.” When their show ended, I was awakened by the noise of plates being rinsed and loaded into the dishwasher. I sat up and tried to find my bearings. I felt more “out of it” than I had before my nap, and it was barely 7. My husband looked at me, love in his eyes and said, “Let’s get you upstairs. There’s always tomorrow.” He kissed me goodnight and told me to just take care of myself as he turned out the light and headed back down to hang-out with “his girls.” That’s what love looks like on an ordinary day.
Sure, carriages and diamonds are nice, but “ordinary love” makes any day extraordinary.
What does love look like on an ordinary day in your life?