“So are you putting up a Christmas tree this year?” Holly asked after taking a long sip of her coffee.
They sat on their usual bench overlooking the river, but it was cold, snowy, and icy today. In fact, ice was forming in large sheets atop the river, and the noise of the process was annoyingly loud.
But Aaron, who was usually sensitive to even the tiniest distraction, didn’t seem bothered at all by the sound. He calmly sipped his Snapple and watched the ice flow downriver.
“Are you daft?” he finally replied.
Holly did a double take. “Did you seriously just call me daft?”
“Did you like it?” Aaron asked excitedly. “It’s one of those words you rarely get to use, and this seemed like the perfect situation to finally insert it into conversation. If I had chosen otherwise, the opportunity to use daft might not have presented itself again for months.”
Holly looked at him and shook her head.
“You really are quirky,” was the kindest thing she could think to say.
Holly held up her free hand to stop him.
“Enough with the observational humor, Seinfeld. Answer my question about the Christmas tree.”
“You’re so demanding,” he observed. “For someone with a Christmas related name, you don’t seem to be at all filled with the Christmas Spirit.”
She gave him the finger. “Then how about I offer you this partridge in a pear tree then?”
Her beautiful face then lit up in a smile, and Aaron chuckled at the witty word play.
“No, I will not be putting up a tree this year,” he informed her. “Just like I haven’t put up a tree any year since you’ve known me.”
Holly turned her brilliant smile into a frown. “That makes me so sad. You love Christmas, so I don’t get why you don’t put up a tree. If I had to guess, you’ve already watched at least one of your favorite Christmas flicks: It’s A Wonderful Life, Love Actually, or Die Hard.”
“Don’t forget to add Bad Santa to my Mount Rushmore of Christmas Movies,” he advised. “And, yes, I have already watched Die Hard. The DVR is set to record Love Actually next week, and I always save the George Bailey Story for Christmas Eve.”
“My love of Christmas films, however, does not mean I’ll be putting up a tree. I’m not sure I’m following the logic there.”
Holly shrugged. “I guess I’d just expect that someone who gets so into the holiday would want to have a tree up as a constant reminder that Christmas is approaching.”
Aaron took another sip of Snapple and shook his head.
“But you’d have gifts for under the tree if you’d allow me to buy you some,” she pleaded.
It broke her heart that Aaron never had any presents to open on Christmas morning, but he would not bend on his insistence that she not buy him anything. Apparently, his heartbreak and agony over the gift giving process ran too deep.
As much as he loved the lead up to the holiday, the day itself hurt him too much. He never talked about it, and Holly never pushed, even though she desperately wanted to do so.
“I was wrong earlier, and I’m always one to admit my mistakes,” he told her.
“What are you talking about?” she asked in utter confusion at the unexpected change in topic.
“I said that I wouldn’t have the chance to use daft in a sentence again for many months, but your statement about exchanging gifts presented yet a second opportunity in one conversation,” he clarified with a sly grin.
“You’re impossible,” she grumbled. “And don’t make an observation about how people never point out that you’re rational…”
“Will you at least come over and help me decorate my tree?” she asked and then looked at him with big, sad eyes that made it pretty impossible for him to deny her request.
“Will there be anyone else there? And what will the food situation be?”
“We can get Chinese, I’ll make sure there is plenty of Snapple, and there will be no one there but the two of us,” she promised.
Aaron nodded that this all appealed to him. “I’ll bring apple pie.”
“And maybe when we’re done, we can burn off some of those calories by walking around the neighborhood and looking at the Christmas lights,” she added.
“I’d like that,” he responded with a smile.
“You’d be daft not to,” she answered with a giggle.
Holly felt warm and fuzzy inside as she mentally plotted out the evening they had just discussed.
Aaron felt warm and fuzzy, too, but he was suddenly distracted by all the noise the ice was making, and he mentally plotted out the rant he would share with Holly in mere moments…