I remember it so well – we didn’t really spend “Christmas” together as we didn’t celebrate Christmas Eve or Christmas Day together, but the moments we spent together at Christmas time were very special, because our love was so new and we were ecstatically happy.
One of those moments was precisely on the 23rd of December of some years ago. We had been going out for only a few weeks and our relationship was still a secret; and we wanted to keep it that way for some time. Not that we weren’t sure about what we felt for each other but being mature adults, both of us divorced with children and coming from unhappy marriages, we wanted to have some time for ourselves, to get to know each other better and to enjoy this strong feeling that was filling our hearts.
I remember putting on a nice dress I had recently bought. It was definitely not warm but it was sexy and smart, and what did I care – I put on a warm coat and I came out to find him in his car, smiling at me. I felt beautiful, invincible, happy, excited; I suddenly thought I hadn’t felt like this for a long, long time, and I felt like laughing – yes, that was it, I felt like a teenager again, after so many years! And by his face, and his eyes, and his smile, I could bet he was feeling the same.
We went to the movies, something we had recently discovered we both loved. We saw “The holiday”, a Christmas romantic comedy and every time I watch that movie it takes me back to that Christmas evening – and never did I enjoy a movie session more. We just sat there in the dark, holding hands and occasionally kissing, and whispering and softly laughing and feeling we had so much in common with the lovers on the screen.
When we came out we decided to go to a small Indian restaurant near the Castle of St. George where we had already been once – and loved it. We left the car at in a parking downtown and we went up the hill to the castle, holding each other not just because it was cold, but because we needed to feel each other, to touch each other, to be close. There were Christmas lights and decorations all over and it almost looked like daytime; the people passing by on the street looked cheerful and it seemed to us that everyone was celebrating life as we were.
The restaurant was closed, but nothing could spoil our mood. Down the street we found another one and, even if the food was nothing much – I can’t even recall what we ate – the atmosphere was magical. At least, to us it seemed to be. The dim lights, the little tables in the corners, the old walls and antique furniture, the iron lamps hanging from the ceiling, the soft music that was playing… we sat facing each other and holding hands and talking, talking about so many things, about the movie we had loved, about Christmas, about our lives, about our plans, but above all about what we felt for each other and the happiness it was bringing us…
Magical moments go by only too quickly and suddenly we realized we were the only guests at the restaurant. As we got up to leave the waiter wished us Merry Christmas and closed the door behind us with a sympathetic smile. He knew we would have stayed on and on and we certainly would, if only we had the power to stop time and make that special evening last forever. But of course we hadn’t, so we came down the castle hill and soon he was dropping me home, and I went to sleep and dreamt of my new love.
The following day again we snatched a few moments to be together. We met on a deserted beach as I was on my way to get my children who were staying with their father. For a few minutes we stayed there, holding each other and looking at the sunset over the magnificent sea; we promised each other we’d have many Christmases together, when we would bring our families together and openly live our love story. And we knew it would happen; we knew our love would prosper because it was so strong, so special, and we had finally found each other after so many years of feeling lonely inside.
So many things have happened since that Christmas. We have lived wonderful moments together. We have faced some crisis too. As all lovers do. We have travelled together to many beautiful places and have so many unforgettable memories. We have been close and we have drifted apart, but we have always come together again. Our love has endured. Our relationship is now very different from what it was in the beginning and neither of us feels like teenagers any more. Sometimes I feel we have aged so much since that first Christmas. We have both changed, maybe become more selfish; life has become more complicated in many senses. Sometimes I even feel we won’t be together forever. But then, it only takes one look at him to know that he is still that special person; it only takes one of the songs we used to listen to when our love began to know that it hasn’t gone away, it’s still there, maybe slightly dormant but still alive. And I hope there will be moments when it comes alive again in full force – and somehow we’ll recover the magic of our early days together, and live some very happy moments again. After all, what is life but a succession of moments, and if all of them were happy we simply wouldn’t distinguish them from the rest – and they would not be so special.
This Christmas we’ll get together with our families, as it has been since our first Christmas. And I will look at him and feel happy, not ecstatically so but still happy, because it’s Christmas and we are still together. As we had hoped for, all those years ago, in what were undoubtedly the most romantic Christmas moments of our lives.