Sunday, December 16, 2012

Carson's almost-birthday

Six days before Christmas, (December 19th for all you math-whizzes) Carson will turn 26 years old.

The first birthday that I spent with him, he turned 23. We were engaged and I had NO idea what to get him. He was in the process of selling his rafting gear (he used to do a lot of whitewater rafting and guiding, and gave it up when we got engaged because he thought it was "more of a single guy's thing") so I couldn't get him anything like that. I settled on a sweater, because he didn't have any nice ones and  because he'd mentioned wanting them. I spent an agonizing hour in one store, trying to decide which one and if he would like it while describing sweaters to my mom. He received more than just that for his 23rd birthday, but the stress of choosing not only a birthday present, but also Christmas presents six days later for our very first holiday together was a bit overwhelming.

We really haven't been together for very long. Someone at work asked me the other day how long we knew one another before getting engaged. Every time someone asks, I think I'm a little surprised by the answer. "Three months -- long distance" is not the answer most people expect. But for some reason it was just perfect.

But the thing was that on our first Christmas three years ago, I didn't know him very well. I thought that I did, but the reality was that we had only really gotten to know one another after we got engaged in August. I remember someone asking me basic questions about him and I had no idea. What's his favorite movie? What was the name of his first pet? What kind of sweater would he like for Christmas?

Three years ago, I could not have told you. Argyle, it turns out, wasn't his kind of thing. Neither were sweaters that must be washed in a certain way. He claimed to like it, and I'm sure he did, but the sweater shrunk on its first wash because he didn't read the tag. Today, I laugh because I know that high-maintenance sweaters are just so NOT Carson.

I used to be jealous when couples would turn to one another and say, "Remember when?" or when they would have a slideshow of pictures of them as babies and then pictures of them together at wedding rehearsals (our wedding guestbook was side-by-side pictures of us growing up and then the last two pages are our entire relationship).

It's amazing how much can happen in such a short time, if you really think about it. We've gotten married, we're on our third home, we live in Ohio, we've survived long-distance separations several times, we've celebrated anniversaries, rejoiced and cried over our first baby's short existence, graduated from college, bought furniture, made houses into homes, chosen a different life-plan than the one we thought we had three years ago, he's started grad school....

And in that time, we've grown up. Carson is the same person that he was three years ago, but at the same time, so different. He is more gentle, more understanding, and more willing to give hints for birthday gifts (I have always been excellent at giving hints, so I guess I'm rubbing off on him). He has learned the difference between discussion and flat-out arguing (while I've figured out that they aren't the same to him and that raising your voice doesn't always mean you're angry). He knows that tulips are my favorite, that notes and words of affirmation are something I need, that it's not chocolate, but salty things that I'd prefer as snacks and treats.

As we've grown, there are things about him that will probably never change. He is the first to volunteer to do things, to provide food or to give someone a ride. He has never been afraid to go up to people at church or any gathering, stick out his hand and introduce himself (I hoped this would rub off on me. Nope.). When we're on a road trip, he will probably always come out of a gas station with too much junk food (especially gummies). He can't pass up a clearance sign or a thrift store. And more and more, I find myself noticing these things, just because Carson would!

I find myself learning new things about Carson everyday, which is good because if I'd learned everything in three years, I guess he would have been a little boring. Life is far from boring and as each month and year goes by, I realize that we do have memories and so many pictures of things we've done together that our slideshow could put you to sleep.

In our very short time together, I have come to know and love Carson more than I thought possible. He's solid, dependable, honest, direct, confident and serious... not to mention that he's also funny, unpredictable, a little impulsive, good-natured and loves CATS? (I still don't understand this and I fear the day when he wins me over to liking cats).

Happy birthday, Carson. I look forward to laughing about how little I knew you at 26.


By the way, for that first Christmas, he gave me a present every day leading up to Christmas. I received nice outerwear, wool socks, gloves and more... and hiking boots. Today, I suspect that the things under the tree are a little bit less outdoorsy. 


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