85: Joy in the Shadows

85: Joy in the Shadows

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: It's Christmas!

Joy in the Shadows

Love is the flower of life, and blossoms unexpectedly and without law, and must be plucked where it is found, and enjoyed for the brief hour of its duration.

~D.H. Lawrence

“Everybody come to the living room,” my husband invited, “and we’ll pass out the gifts.” Our grandsons ran from their playroom and plopped down in front of the Christmas tree, waiting for Papa to play Santa Claus.

As the family gathered, my nervousness intensified and I started to get a headache. My son’s addiction had reached unparalleled levels, and I never knew how he would respond in family situations. Would he “nod off,” feeling the effects of the drugs he was taking, or would he hide out in the bathroom while the family opened presents? Peace, joy, and love didn’t enter my mind. I wanted to crawl in bed and avoid the holy day.

Cory, our oldest daughter’s boyfriend, had joined us for Christmas. All the presents had been opened when Cory asked Caleb, my daughter’s son, to open a gift hidden behind the couch. Caleb ripped off the paper, surprised to find a box of Twix candy bars.

“Pass them out, please,” Cory said, taking one for himself. Caleb obeyed.

Cory unwrapped a bar. “Twix bars break apart with a slight amount of pressure.” He demonstrated by popping the candy bar in half with a quick snap. “The two halves still taste good, but they are no longer one bar.”

“Hmm, this is a strange gift,” I thought.

Cory handed Caleb another wrapped box and instructed him to open it; inside he found Snickers bars. “Okay, give one to everybody.”

“Now, look at it,” Cory said. “The Snickers is thick, solid and harder to break than the Twix bar; it stretches when pulled apart. That’s how I feel about Caron and me. We are solid. We may be stretched, but it will be difficult to break us apart.” As he uttered those words, he eased off the couch and rested on one knee in front of my daughter.

I thought he slid off because the couch was crowded with grandsons and toys. Then I noticed a diamond engagement ring in his palm. With shaky hands and trembling voice, Cory blurted: “Caron, will you marry me?”

The squeals, screams, and tears started. Finally, when we all had quieted down, she looked him in the eye and said, “Yes.” The excitement continued for the afternoon as wedding talk overtook our conversations until everyone left for their homes.

The tree looked naked without its skirt of brightly wrapped gifts. I relaxed in the soft glow of the Christmas lights, replaying the day’s events in my mind. I recalled the morning’s foreboding thoughts and concerns over my son’s behavior, about the hopelessness I felt. But a smile spread across my face as I recalled Cory’s surprise marriage proposal. The unique way he “popped the question.” It provided a much-needed diversion from the year’s agony and sorrow. Now, all I could think was, “Woo hoo! We’ve got a wedding to plan.”

~Sharron K. Cosby

More stories from our partners