I posted this story one year ago. As it’s one of my favorite stories I’ll tell it again after making an adjustment for the timeline.
It was Christmas Eve, 1977. I was nineteen.
Earlier in the week I was preparing to play music at Midnight Mass.
Your sister and I had become close friends, having met at the church youth group. She invited me to Christmas Eve dinner, mentioning your mother made her famous home-made tamales, and, oh, her brother would be there.
“Brother? Your older brother and his family? You have another brother? Really?”
I arrived, guitar in hand. I wasn’t planning on singing anything, but I definitely didn’t want to leave the guitar in the car.
I rang the doorbell and you answered. I said hello and introduced myself. I thought, hey, nice eyes…nice smile…nice looking!
The evening went quickly because I had to get to church early. Everyone was trying to visit with you since you were on leave from the Air Force. I know we only spent a few minutes talking.
Your sister asked me if I would sing something.
As much as I’ve sung in public I was always shy about singing in a close-knit setting. Most people are surprised when I say that but it’s true. After a little bit of prodding I broke out the guitar. Knowing your parents spoke Spanish, I decided to sing Silent Night because I could sing it in Spanish and English.
I didn’t realize that my voice was part of what made you take notice of me.
I said my good-byes. You asked me if you could carry my guitar to the car. I said sure.
It’s funny how decisions that ordinarily are so minor can make a huge impact on our lives.
Normally I would say no when people asked me if they could help. I was always my own roadie.
It was a short walk to the car. Once the guitar was in the trunk you said the most memorable line of the evening.
“Aren’t you going to give me a tip?”
I was thinking of making joke,”Here’s a tip. Take this one from me!” but I couldn’t think of a punch line that quickly. Instead, I looked at you, smiled, said thank-you and gave you a quick kiss on the cheek. You smiled at me, wished me a Merry Christmas and we said good-bye.
I knew you were on leave from the Air Force, so I wasn’t sure that I was going to see you again.
Little did I know that we would go out later in the week while you were still on leave.
On that night I certainly didn’t expect to become engaged, break up, get back together, and finally marry you seventeen years later!
We met 35 years ago on Christmas Eve. I’m glad I said yes to your sister’s invitation as it turned out to be one of the most important nights of my life.
Happy Anniversary, Al.