Here’s a sneak peek:
Some things are best kept secret. Mothers and daughters know this. Occasionally, daughters try to keep secrets from their mothers, especially when, in the end, the joy comes from the telling.
Especially at Christmas.
Something seemed out of place in that living room decorated red and green and gold. It didn’t take long to see the pale peach bag off to one side beneath a festive Christmas tree with presents populating its lower reaches.
It was a pale peach shopping bag, tasteful and eye catching, and even if it did not have the easily identifiable logo on each broad side, it would have stood out among the gifts in shiny lacquered paper and festive bows and ribbons. It was a noticeable bag. It stood out in a decidedly un-Christmas fashion. In a house with four women it would seem that a pale peach shopping bag from a well-known lingerie shop would invite comment. It didn’t. Studiously ignored or embarrassingly avoided, it sat off to one side, on its own.
It was a predominately female household. There was a mother and her husband, and three grown daughters frequently darkened its doors. The youngest daughter may not have officially left home, but her rare appearances made her seem more like a visitor than a resident.
This worked out well for the wayward uncle visiting that particular Christmas. He could stay in the youngest daughter’s almost unused room, giving the dilapidated convertible couch in the television room a reasonable retirement. The wayward uncle paid for this space with a cut-glass bowl filled with chocolates. His bonus in the deal was being with family for the holidays. Over the years he spent much of his free time at that house with that sister and her daughters. He felt welcomed there.
In that house, in that year, that particular Christmas was one fashioned for grownups. There were no small children anxiously waiting for Christmas morning. So, with the absence of children, the ritual of opening gifts with loved ones was postponed until evening. It made the day calm and steady in a way more typical of adults.
When evening approached all the characters assembled and enjoyed the usual ebb and flow of family and greetings and conversation and food before the ritual unwrapping of gifts began. The pale peach bag remained anonymous, holding its position, waiting its turn. As the unwrapping of gifts came to its conclusion, the bag become more noticeable, until, at last, it was the center of attention.
The oldest daughter reached for it and gave it to her mother, who accepted it with a puzzled but bemused smile. “I wonder what’s in here?” she quietly asked.
“It’s a surprise,” her daughter answered.
And after lifting a piece of wrapping paper, everyone was silently introduced to each gift.
A baby blanket.
A baby book.
The mother-to-be couldn’t contain herself any longer. “We’re going to have a baby!”
Joy and laughter and an entire household, and entire holiday, was set on its head. The mother-to-be said she’d known for months but could not, would not say anything until Christmas, and confessed it was the hardest thing she’d ever done.
The mother, now a grandmother-to-be, knew that her daughter’s silence, that keeping of a secret, was a gift, for she knew her daughter would tell her anything. Her sacrifice of silence sealed the surprise. The ruse was perfect.
All eyes were on those innocent items and the promise they held.
No one looked at the pale peach bag in quite the same way afterward.
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