Their morning routine was relaxed and enjoyable. A mix of continued pleasure followed by the existential realities of life.
Since Nathan wasn’t overly concerned about list-making, he enjoyed watching Emma’s since she was involved in deep concentration relating to the gifts she was considering for each person on her list.
Before setting out on their journey of discovery, Nathan asked, “What events do you engage in that make Christmas special to you?”
“What I call ‘home Christmas’ we sing carols around the piano, we reminisce about other Christmas’s, we take long walks, stoke the fire and sit with eggnog, my dad plays chess with anyone that will play, we bake.”
“How abut you, Nathan?”
“It’s been years since I bothered on a personal basis. The staff gets Christmas to New Years off and don’t arrive back until the 5th. They bake like mad creatures before-hand so the fridge is fully stocked as is the freezer and if I’m home I can grab whatever I need.”
“I often take off to Paris or Milan, check on the art galleries there or take the opportunity to paint, without interruption. Every year is different.”
“Locally, I usually miss many events as I’m usually at home with my family. The one event I haven’t participated in as yet is riding the Argosy ship. It’s something I’ve really wanted to participate in, dining on board, it sounds romantic and fun.”
“What have you in mind for gifts?” Nathan asked curiously.
“I was considering some locally made crafts, jewelry, home decor made by local artisans as well as stocking stuffers perhaps smoked salmon, bins of tea and chocolate-covered Rainier Cherries. Gifts my family aren’t likely to obtain back home.”
“In that case, I suggest we start on Capital Hill as a jumping off point for our journey. They have some lovely items there that might fit the bill.”
They headed out, hands linked, with hot coffee in hand. “My sister, Jenna, loves everything Asian. I thought I might hit ID as they have some authentic asian cuisine as well as, hopefully, some gifts that might work with her style.”
“Let’s see, Angeline is into good food, so I was thinking Smoked Salmon, and a kitchen shop since she’s into cooking.”
“Daniel and Fran have a very modern home so anything ultra modern works for them.”
“Mom loves elegant and has a collection of tea cups while Dad loves chess so I was thinking, a glass chess set.”
“Very eclectic mix.”
“They are indeed.”
“What about you, Emma, what would you like?”
“You.” Emma moved to face him and said, “Just you.”
“Surely there is something more basic that you’d like.”
“No, not really.”
They wandered hand in hand from location to location, and both Emma and Nathan’s hands were full of packages. Nathan finally sent Jim to the vehicle with the first load as it seemed they weren’t finished as yet.
“Well, I think I’ve nearly finished. I haven’t found something special for Dad yet. I was really hoping for a chess set so he can carry on a couple of games. He has one ongoing game with Daniel that they have dusted off and played every Christmas for the past four years.” She laughed at the memory. “I must prepare you, the kibitzing is unrelenting.”
“Sounds like fun,” Nathan responded.
“Oh, be prepared, if it’s not snowing, for a game of football or basketball, depending. If we get a deluge of snow, it’s snowmobiling or snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.”
“So I need to come prepared.”
“Definitely.” Emma smiled. “You an outdoor type, Nathan?”
“I can hold my own,” he assured her.
“Good to know.”
“I have a ton of Christmas decorations which I’ve instructed the staff to find. When we get home, we can decorate the indoor tree in the living room. I leave the rest to the staff to enjoy and enjoy they do. You’ll be surprised at the change when we get back.”
“Ohh, sounds delightful, I can’t wait. Oh, do you have any Christmas tunes?”
“I’m sure we can download a few.”
“Awesome, there’s nothing like decorating to Christmas music.”
When they arrived at Nathan’s and entered, Emma halted abruptly. The kitchen looked like a winter wonderland. As she wandered closer she exclaimed, “Wow, you are all so talented, this is beautiful!” Her unprecedented delight animated her face and her eyes glowed. “How lovely.” The staff simply nodded and smiled.
They ate steak, baked potato, salad and a delicious truffle in the living room beside a glowing fireplace. “More wine?”
“Yes, thank you.”
They relaxed for a half hour, exchanging what they considered fun moments with family and friends. “Ok, what about decorating that tree?” Nathan suggested.
“Is it real or fake?”
“Please!” Nathan nodded to a young man who quickly brought in a tree blanket and extension cord and within minutes a massive tree, easily 15 feet tall was set up in front and cornering the bookshelf left of the garden window. Quickly boxes of decorations appeared. Emma stood and opened several boxes and found a variety of colours, white, blue, red, some green and gold as well. “Pick your favourite, Emma, we have enough to mix match or we can use a single colour.”
“These look antique, Nathan. Were they your grandparents?”
Nathan tapped her nose, “Yes, they were. I have a very eclectic mixture so I leave it to your imagination.”
Emma opened box after box and the contents were simply breathtaking. Together, they placed all the bulbs and decorations and when finished, Nathan was delighted by her compilation. It was eclectic but beautiful, and the colours and styles she’d chosen worked beautifully together. “Emma, I have to admit, I think this is one of the most beautifully decorated trees I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing. Thank you.”
“Goodness, it’s my pleasure, Nathan. What a treat! Such beauty is difficult to define although I have to say it’s gorgeous.”
Together, they broke out a bottle of wine and sat in two chairs now sitting in an L-shaped fashion facing the tree. A sigh escaped through Emma’s parted lips. “I could sit here forever and simply enjoy.”
“Do you mind if I take a few pictures for my family? They’ll love this.”
“Wait a second, I’ll get my digital camera.”
Emma took several pictures from differing directions and angles thoroughly involved in the moment. Nathan was truly delighted with her complete absorption in the job at hand.