broken parabolic



When the Novelty Wears Off

12 December 2010

It comes out of nowhere, that moment when the view behind you becomes a sweeping panorama, rich and full of detail and nuance and theme.

We decorated the tree tonight. For a long time as we did it, I couldn't figure out what it was that was making me so quietly elated. There was nothing particular about what we were doing; they were the same things we'd done in years past. The struggle in the cold, cramped crawlspace under the basement stairs to get all of the Christmas boxes out and up to the main floor, eggnog and rum with a little nutmeg, M&M's in the shiny, red, M&M-shaped bowl we'd bought years ago, some Christmas music piped from the laptop through the stereo. The same tree decorations we'd used for years. There was nothing new about it, and yet there was something that came over me that I had not felt in previous years.

And then it occurred to me: this is the first Christmas in which these things didn't feel somewhat new. They felt established, they felt normal, they felt like the traditions they were originally meant to be. These things felt familiar in a way they never had before. Not novel or contrived or forced or even deliberate. Just natural.

In moments like these, you come face to face with the enormity of the life you have built with someone. Of course, it isn't just the tree. But the tree brings to mind for me the thousands of other things that have become our normal, with no thought to how anyone else does them.

And over the years, normal becomes more precious than novel. Not because we become set in our ways or are just more comfortable maintaining the status quo, but because that normal is the product of shared history, with its feasts and its famines, its war and its peace. It's a normal that was fought for, not stumbled upon or settled into.

So here's to you, honey. For the life we've built together and the immeasurable value it carries with it now. For working, sometimes fighting, alongside me for this normal. So that putting up the tree feels like it's supposed to.

And it's been less than eight years. I look forward to the rest of our lives.

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