She decided that this would be the year of the white Christmas.
Snow on the ground. A chill in the air. A fire in the fireplace. Hot toddies and slow mornings snuggled beneath fleecy comforters.
So here we are in Harbor Springs, Michigan, our cottage clearly visible from the road through the naked hardwoods, a string of white lights surrounding the front door, deer tracks on the back deck, and the eighth hole of the golf course stretching forlornly east under its snowy blanket.
Fala, lala, la.
I was sent to the basement to fetch the crèche. It’s in a box, with a lot of little boxes inside, each one containing a figurine. Mary, Joseph, the infant. Cows, wise men. Maybe a shepherd or two.
I scoured the storage room. Looked in every box I could see. No crèche. I began to panic. Surely it is here someplace. She said it was, and she knows about such things.
I remembered the famous shower episode.
We were spending a couple of days with Dave and Lynn Michael at the place they had rented at Black Diamond golf resort. Dave and I had an early tee time. The girls were still sleeping.
I could not figure out how to get the shower to work.
Now I’m not a complete idiot. I’ve stayed in countless hotels and motels, stayed at the homes of many friends and relatives. I’ve managed to figure out how to route the water through the showerhead instead of the bathtub faucet many, many times.
It’s easy. All you do is pull up on the little lever. Or push down. Or sideways.
Of course, first you have to find the little lever.
Sometimes it’s on the top of the faucet. Sometimes, it’s underneath.
But in this case, I was at a loss to find any little lever. I felt the faucet all over. Top and bottom. No lever. No button. No nothing.
Dave appeared. I told him the problem. I also told him that I didn’t want to wake up my wife. She would, I told him, even though half asleep, simply touch something I had not seen and presto, the water would come out of the showerhead.
Dave agreed that such embarrassment should be avoided, but darned if he could get the shower to work either.
Of course, Polly could, and she did, half asleep and went back to bed.
So I kept looking for the crèche.
Polly could find it, I told myself. She said it is down here. It’s got to be here someplace.
When she called me for lunch, I climbed the stairs in defeat and humiliation. I told her I could not find it.
She said she knew it is down there and I should eat my lunch.
Overcome by pride, I insisted that she tell me exactly where the crèche was, so I could bring it up before eating. She described the storage area, said it was on the second shelf.
Downstairs I went. Determined. My search was limited to a single shelf. The crèche could not elude me.
But it did.
I came back upstairs, defeated, frustrated. Whereupon my dear bride led me downstairs and pointed to the box. Right there on the second shelf.
Growing old is uncomfortable in many ways, not the least of which is ineptitude in the ordinary activities of life.
There is no greater blessing than to be married to a woman who is an expert in the art of living.
Even if sometimes you feel a little foolish.