The gift without wrapping — love

By Caitlin Kelly

Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For many of us, the holidays are a time of frenzied shopping, wrapping gifts, tearing them open with glee, (and pretending we love those socks, really!) — surrounded by loved ones, deep in the bosom of a welcoming family.

For others, it’s a lonely time of want and exclusion.

My greatest gift, for the past 13 years, has been my husband, Jose, who proposed to me on Christmas Eve, with snow falling around us, after the evening service at our small historic church. He knew that night had many painful memories for me, going back decades, and decided to “re-brand” it with something new and happy.

But we didn’t marry until September 2011, eight years later, in a small wooden church on an island in the harbor of my hometown, Toronto.

Our marriage, which we cherish for this, is hard-won.


We were — and still are — two hot-headed, competitive, stubborn workaholics, both career journalists more accustomed to pouring our best, (our all), into our work, a safe place to win recognition, awards and income. His parents died before he was 30 and we’re not close, emotionally or physically, to our families, no matter how hard we’ve tried. No one from his family attended our wedding, nor did one of my brothers or my mother. We have no children.

So we’re very much one another’s family.

We also married, (the second marriage for both), at what is euphemistically and hopefully called mid-life.

I’m grateful for the daily gift of a good man who loves me deeply.

We laugh loudly, and a lot. We talk for hours. We lean our heads against one another’s shoulders in public. He does the laundry. I do (some!) of the cooking. He’s starting to beat me (damn!) at Bananagrams. He’s the guy who — when I start waving the wooden stick after I’ve finished my ice cream bar — makes the buzzing noise of a light saber.

The furthest apart we’ve (yet) been — I was in Tunis on a solo vacation and he was in San Francisco, judging photos for the “A Day in the Life of America” coffee table book.

In this, our 13th holiday season together, he has shown me, more than anyone in my life so far, that love doesn’t come in a box or bag or sealed-plastic container.

It has no price tag or return policy.

If we’re really lucky, it’s right there in front of us.

34 thoughts on “The gift without wrapping — love

  1. Steve

    Sounds to me like you’re a very blessed girl. Things here are almost polar opposite. Holidays find our family of 5 boys, a wife of 35 years, two grand baby boys (this year), four wives, the youngest son with better than all a’s in his second year of college, six boxers all home together in our home area. I am a truly a blessed man, except maybe for the dogs. Truly God is great! May this Christmas season inspire you to pause and thank Him for the many blessings to you and Jose as well . God Bless you Caitlin! Merry Christmas! Steve

    1. Your holidays sound a lot of fun! (and a lot of cooking!)
      Congrats on the grandbabies and the stellar college grades and things sound terrific for you.

      Have a great Christmas — and we’ll arm-wrestle some more in 2014! πŸ™‚

  2. A wonderful tribute to your marriage and your 13 years together with Jose, Caitlin …and obvious in your eyes and your heart that your union is your greatest gift. Happy Anniversary!

  3. It’s so romantic !
    I am also blessed to have a wonderful husband ! Yes, it’s priceless and irreplaceable πŸ™‚ thanks for sharing this post!
    Happy holiday with your husband.

    1. Thanks.

      It did take us years to really calm down and wear down our sharper edges. We could easily have given up any number of times along the way, so I am glad we didn’t. We really have worked hard on our own issues, without which I think many marriages quickly fail.

  4. My partner and I are also each other’s families. It does make all the difference when they are your best friend, as well. I loved reading this, thankyou and have a very merry christmas!
    Both of you.

  5. Lovely to read. It’s often hard to get around the ‘wrapping’ of Christmas and to appreciate what it’s really about. But that being said, in my experience you need that ‘wrapping’ to know that it’s really that time of year when we should be thinking of others.

      1. Indeed, but then we’d have no time for all the other spirits we should be experiencing…perhaps πŸ™‚

        Merry Christmas to you regardless!

  6. Very well put and so true! I truly hope that you have found a relationship that will endure for the remainder of your lifetime. A true partnership feels much like a softly burning fire in the fireplace when a blizzard is raging outside. With our 65th anniversary coming up, we are convinced that ours is going to last.

      1. Thank you so much for the chuckle but even if I had married at 12 I would no longer be young. By chance rather than tradition, we married at exactly the ages that were considered proper at that time. 21 for the groom and 18 for the bride.

  7. Happy (proposal) anniversary, Caitlin! (I know you got married in September, but it always seems like this is when you two made your commitment, and September confirmed what was already real.) I love the idea of needing no wrapping, being a gift to each other just as we are.

    Joe and I will celebrate 5 years on Valentine’s Day coming. Everyday I feel as you do, that this time around I know myself better and have much more to give, and he is the one I want to give my best me to. His parents have passed, and mine have passed. He has been widowed twice, so this really is an extra inning- a gift in itself!

    So when I put myself under the tree tonight, I will tell Joe you said it was okay to go “unwrapped! πŸ˜‰

    All the best to you and Jose, Joyeux noΓ«l et Bonne annΓ©e!

    1. Hey, Diane, good to hear from you again!

      I think you’re already into Boxing Day — as we are just about to enjoy our Christmas dinner. I hope your day was lovely.

      Thanks much for the kind words. I think there is someone out there for each of us. They might (as we are) be a diamond in the rough or not someone we’d normally consider “our type.” I resisted the notion of Jose-as-husband for a long time as we *are* very different. But the balance works.

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