A JoVan holiday tale told from an interesting point of view.
First she said that she wanted to get married on Christmas Day. But then she changed her mind. She chose New Years Eve instead. It’s only fitting since after today, she will no longer be just my little girl. When the clock strikes 12, she’ll have begun her first year being a wife. She says she read about the custom on the internet. But my only irrational thought is this is a set up to drive the point home. My baby girl has grown up and is in charge of her own life.
I watch as she spins on the dance floor, laughing as her eager partner dips her. She loves to dance, and she’s good at it. She’s taken lessons in almost every form of dance since she was three, so she should be. Remembering watching her proudly at dance recitals and watching her now as she gazes up at her partner adoringly, I can’t hold back the sudden tear that slides down my cheek. I wipe it away surreptitiously, and muster up the biggest smile that I can.
Because I am happy for her. It’s just hard not to be reminded of the little girl with the large, dancing brown eyes, who captured everyone’s hearts as she danced on her father’s feet at the weddings of family members, and promised him first dance at her own wedding. She was so little back then, so little and innocent. Life has dealt her many blows, but she’s grown into a smart, successful, beautiful woman nonetheless. Soon, she’ll be a mother herself. She’d better; I want to be a grandmother.
I’m not holding back tears because I’m not happy that she’s found love. I’m completely over the moon about the fact that she’s found a man who respects and loves her as much as she deserves, and as much as she respects and loves him. It’s the kind of love that is built to last, built to withstand even the worst of things. It’s the kind of love that I have for her father. Because after all these years, and everything that we’ve been through, I still love him, probably more so as each day passes by.
A well-wisher stops by my table to whisper, "Your daughter looks so beautiful. You must be proud."
"I am. Immensely."
She smiles and walks away, and I watch my daughter as she spins out again and winks at her little sister. So impulsive and flighty, my little one is, with a temper and an iron will that she definitely gets from her father. That and her heart of pure gold. Both my girls have one; that’s why their hearts are so precious.
There was that one time they took in a stray dog. They hid the dog from me and their father for days, spending their allowance on pet food and toys. They probably could have kept up the sham indefinitely if it weren’t for my wondering why my clean house was suddenly smelling like a dirty dog and the fact that the dog got sick. The vet said that there wasn’t much hope, that hunger and exposure to the elements had taken its toll on the poor creature, but we took the dog home and the girls sat up with him for long nights, worrying until he was well. Just like their father and I used to keep vigil over them when they were sick. Love is a powerful medicine. And there’s no such thing as too much love.
Everyone said that we spoiled our girls. Family, friends, doctors. We probably did. Who am I kidding? We definitely did. Everything that they wanted from us, they got. Even things that they didn’t particularly want they got. People said that we treated our children like they were gods. We ignored them. Of course our children should have the best of the world and of course our family should be the center of our universes. And soon, I hope, there’ll be grandchildren in the equation.
I even said that much to her this morning as she stood before me in her wedding dress. I handed her the something borrowed, and her eyes widened. She knows the story behind it, says it’s the most romantic story she’s ever heard. I winked and told her that she should think about the origins when she decides to get started on my grandchildren. When she finally stopped choking, she managed to say that she never thought that she never thought her mother would be encouraging her to have sex. But hey, I’m not getting any younger. And I’ve always had a very open relationship with my children. Their father and I agreed that we would show as much affection to our children as we possibly could. We always knew that our parents loved us, but in the generation that they grew up in, they had trouble showing us sometimes.
The song ends and John kisses her tenderly on the forehead before coming over to me. He grins devilishly, his blue eyes alight as he holds his hand out to me. "Can I have this dance?"
I take his hand and stand; we float out onto the dance floor as the music starts. "What A Difference A Day Made". So appropriate for the occasion. It is only fitting that this song should play at her wedding, it is the same song her father and I danced to at our wedding, long ago.
"She’ll be fine. She’s in good hands."
I roll my eyes. "That’s very easy for you to say Lieutenant McBain."
"You know, it would be nice if you called me John once in a while."
"If you say so Lieutenant."
He smiles and we settle into a comfortable silence. I can see a flurry of snowflakes outside the window. She once said, when she was five, that God made snow so the world could get a do-over like when I let her have a new sheet of paper if she messed up her drawing. She’s always been such a strong believer in second chances. Even today, some of her child-like innocence in the matter remains.
The song soon ends, and we move off the dance floor. Somewhere in town, a church bell strikes twelve, and everyone erupts in cheers of "Happy New Year!" and smatterings of the classic New Year’s song, Auld Lang Syne.
John and I smile at each other, unseen by everyone else as they sheer and shout.
"Happy New Year, John."
"Happy New Year, Evangeline."
As on our first New Year’s Day together, we kiss, passionate and loving. And just like our first New Year’s kiss, this one promises many more kisses and years of love and laughter to come.