Christmas 2000

I sat in front of the tree watching my children scamper around the pile of wrapping paper. My husband looked at me funny and handed me a present. “Merry Christmas,” he said, a Santa-like twinkle in his eye.

I pulled away the paper, wondering what his look meant. He knew I loved surprises. Was this one?

I took the lid from the box and looked inside. Two passports, ours. Two airplane tickets. A brochure with the Eiffel Tower preening on its cover. “Tomorrow,” he said.

“Tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow we fly to Paris. Happy anniversary!”

I hugged him, laughter dancing in the air. The children danced. I nearly cried.

Though I usually didn’t enjoy having an anniversary around Christmas, this one (our tenth) made it all worthwhile. We spent a week in Paris, walking the cold streets, falling in love with France. We shopped, ate, stayed in an amazing hotel, went to museums, celebrated the new year. We toasted our marriage and dreamed of the future.

This surprise anniversary trip paved the way for our missionary departure to Southern France four years later, an adventure that started with me unwrapping a Christmas present from the man who vowed to love me the rest of my life.

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