Gabriel met his wife on Christmas Eve.
He was seven, and she was eight. He found himself sitting on a bench at a park wondering if Santa was real and if so, could he send him something he really needed. Gabriel was there because his brother was sent away for six months, his mother was at home drinking, and his father…he couldn’t even remember his face.
Along came his wife Sarah, she was always his wife to him, who sat down next to him. In her hand she had a glimmering red box that was so beautiful, Gabriel couldn’t take his eye off of it. While staring at this very box, he heard an angelic voice start to speak.
“Hi, I’m Sarah. Do you want to go play?”
He glanced up and saw Sarah smiling at him. He felt a warmness inside that he had forgotten the frigid temperatures outside.
Before he could say much more, Sarah had grabbed his too large coat and dragged him to the playground. They were swept up in games of imagination and snow angels. Before long, Sarah’s parents were calling for her to go home. She started to run up the path to join them, but stopped and ran back to Gabriel. Giving him a big hug, she then pushed the red box into his hand.
“Merry Christmas Gabe”, and she with that she was gone.
They met at the park every weekend until Sarah turned nine and informed Gabriel she was too old for baby games. He was too so they both tried soccer instead. Sarah enjoyed accidentally kicking him in the shins and he loved watching her smile.
When Sarah was twelve she moved away. Gabriel watched her car drive off with her face looking back at him in the window. In his hand he held another red box very similar to the one three years ago. He opened it and found a note.
Merry Christmas Gabe. I am sorry we can’t make snow angels today and I am not sure when we can again. Just know, I believe in miracles, especially at Christmas. One day we will find each other again.
Year later Gabriel grew up and decided to move as far away from his mother as possible. He wanted to start a new life in the city. He worked a couple of jobs so he could save up money. One day as he was cleaning up at the coffee shop he noticed a group of the girls from the university walk in. He didn’t pay them much attention until he heard a familiar voice float over to him.
He looked and found his wife Sarah once more. She was much taller and her freckles still danced across her nose when she talked. In that moment, her eyes looked over and landed on him. The smile he loved so much lit up her face.
As they spoke she told him she was studying at the school and asked what he was doing. Before he could finish, she grabbed his hand and said, “No. You are going to the school with me to apply for classes. If you do not do this, I will never speak to you again.”
Gabriel could never say no to her and did as she said.
The day she passed the bar and he was finished with graduate school, he offered her a red box.
The same red box she had given him when she moved away.
It was then that Sarah decided she was not too old to play house. They married at the courthouse on Christmas Eve.
Marriage led to a life of Sarah mismatching Gabriel’s socks and accidentally drinking the last of his coffee. In return he proudly wore the same mismatched socks to work and made sure to leave coffee behind for her.
Every Christmas Eve they swapped red boxes and then rushed outside to make snow angels.
Then one Christmas Eve Sarah found herself alone by the tree. In her hand was a red box that Gabriel made sure she would have. Outside the wind and snow made a real snow angel without them.
Sarah put on her coat and walked down to his resting spot.
She pulled out the box meant for him and placed it on his grave.
“Merry Christmas Gabe.”
There was nothing left for her to do but walk away.