Our First Christmas


Several weeks before Christmas, Seth asked me what kind of gifts my family gives for the holidays. Was our gift-giving practical? Sentimental? Minimalistic? Extravagant? “You’re such a generous person, I’m worried that you’re going to out-Christmas me,” he admitted.

First Christmases together are tough. You don’t want to do too little for the other person, but you don’t want to overwhelm them, either. It’s hard to find a balance and make sure your gifts to one another are somewhat equivalent. So I told Seth that I had already planned on three gifts for him – one store bought and two homemade. He gave a sigh of relief (three must have seemed reasonable), and I fully expected to receive about three gifts myself.

But I got fifteen.

FIFTEEN Christmas presents (!) from my boyfriend of eight months. Fortunately, they were spread out over November and December and even January, so I only actually received about half of them on Christmas, but I was still blown away by Seth’s thoughtfulness and generosity.

  1. Vacuum 

On Thanksgiving, Seth asked me if I ever participate in Black Friday. I never have, and hopefully I never will. But Seth loves a good deal, so he planned to venture out to Home Depot or Lowe’s on Black Friday, and he asked me if there was anything I wanted. I laughed, “I doubt there’s anything I want from Home Depot on Black Friday. But thanks for asking. The only thing I can imagine I’d try to get a deal on for Black Friday would maybe be a vacuum – I really need a new one – but I don’t think they sell those at Home Depot.”

The next morning, Seth showed up at my apartment with a $400 vacuum that he got half off at Target. And he wouldn’t let me pay him back. “Merry Christmas early,” he told me with a kiss on my cheek.

Some women might be offended if their boyfriend bought them a vacuum. But as a very practical almost-30-something, I thought his gift was one of the sweetest, most thoughtful gifts I’ve gotten in years.

2 – 4. Apron, Laundry hamper, Chocolate

A couple of weeks before Christmas, Seth and I went shopping together at Marshall’s to pick up some cute (and discounted) gifts for family. While we were walking around the store, I saw an upscale laundry hamper for a great price and mentioned offhand that I should probably get a new one since the one I have now is from high school and has a hole in the bottom.

Seth loves when I wear an apron when I cook, so when we spotted a rack of high-quality aprons, I tried on a few and modeled them for Seth, twirling around playfully in the aisle. My favorite was white and mustard yellow with delicate ruffles along the bottom. And at the check-out line, I saw some gourmet chocolate-covered Oreos that looked delicious, but I exercised self-control and left them on the shelf.

Two days before Christmas, Seth showed up at my door with the unwrapped laundry hamper and a box containing both the apron and the gourmet Oreos. I felt so loved and cherished that he heard my comments and remembered them.

5 – 6. Two Necklaces

The morning of Christmas Eve, Seth and I did our first round of formal gift exchanges, and one of my favorite gifts was a sterling silver arrowhead necklace that he bought from a wonderful craftsman jewelry shop. It’s a reminder of one of the first times I visited his family’s ranch and found an arrowhead in the creek bed. It’s still one of the best arrowheads that’s ever been found at the ranch.

Seth bought me another necklace as well, but evidently it’s still in Turkey waiting to be shipped. He knows I love the Star of Bethlehem and all the science behind it, so he bought me a gorgeous Star of Bethlehem necklace that I can wear year round to remember how awesome our God is and how He has written a love story of poignant beauty in the stars.

7 – 9. Candle, Lotion, Shirt

Similar to the three gifts from Marshall’s, Seth demonstrated his active listening skills when he presented me with a Pomegranate Spruce candle I smelled and liked at a Cracker Barrel while waiting to be seated; some floral hand lotion we both liked at Bath & Body Works; and a really soft graphic tee we both loved at a small boutique near the family ranch.

10 – 12. Mirror, Theology Book, Carving Set

Seth had a full-length mirror he was planning to get rid of, but I didn’t have one in my bedroom, so he offered to drop it off at my place and mount it in my room for me. It has a white frame that goes well with my bedroom decor.

Seth also gave me an 800 page book on Systematic Theology, partially because he knows I love to geek out over that stuff, and partially because he wants us to read through it together and develop a joint faith statement. That may sound awful to some people, but it sounds pretty fun (and romantic!) to me.

Seth spends a lot of time in his woodworking shop, and I’d mentioned wanting to sit in there by him and whittle on some blocks, so Seth bought me a nice wood carving set. We’re talking about starting a joint project together.

13 – 14. Handmade Scrolled Centerpiece Bowl & Mounted Antlers 

In all of that time in his woodworking shop, Seth evidently had been spending a lot of hours working on Christmas gifts for me because, on Christmas Day, Seth presented me with a gorgeous wooden bowl that he carved himself with detailed scroll work. I was stunned. I figured he was talented, but I didn’t know he was this talented!

Seth is also still working on mounting the antlers from the buck I shot over Thanksgiving. Merry Christmas to me!

15. Handwritten Love Letter

And lastly – maybe my favorite gift of all – was a three-paged love letter in which Seth recounted some of our best memories and explained some of his favorite things about me. How I managed not to try at the initial reading is beyond me, because I have read it multiple times since Christmas and teared up at his sweet words.

Seth and I had a great Christmas together. He outdid himself, and I was stunned at his thoughtfulness. Some gifts were practical; others were romantic and sentimental. Overall, I spent my Christmas feeling very loved and cherished. Life is good.

Authentically Aurora

Our First Date

On our first date, Seth took me to a hole-in-the-wall cafe featuring southern comfort food, and I internally raised my eyebrows at his choice. During the drive from my apartment he’d been talking out loud, trying to decide between the southern cafe and a steak restaurant down the street. I definitely would have gone with the steak restaurant for a first date, but ultimately I decided I liked that he chose a restaurant that suited him.

CrackerBarrelInteriorAlways a gentleman, Seth opened the restaurant door for me, and as I took in the decor, I realized this diner was Seth through and through. Following the hostess, I slid into the booth she indicated, taking in the antlers and farming antiques lining the walls. It reminded me of dinners at Cracker Barrel during family road trips when I was a young girl.

The small town country decor inspired me to order a chicken fried steak, and it was the best steak I’ve ever had. Granted, I’d only ever had chicken fried steak once before, but it absolutely melted in my mouth. Seth tried a bite (and then another) and teased me that I was going to be spoiled from ever appreciating chicken fried steak again.

Cookie_Ice_Cream_SandwichAfter dinner, Seth took me across town to try his favorite dessert – cookie ice cream sandwiches. We ended up splitting one because they were huge. Seth smiled at me across the table, and I giggled as melting vanilla ice cream dripped down my fingers.

When he finished his half of the ice cream sandwich, Seth went to wash up. Upon his return, he announced, “The men’s restroom door has a sign on it that says, ‘Use women’. But I’m not going to do that.” I rolled my eyes at his joke, and he gave me a rakish grin in response.

We walked around outside for a while, enjoying the night air, and on the drive home, Seth reached over to take my hand. My stomach flip-flopped, and I marveled at the fact that such a simple gesture could mean so much to me. My hands had been in my lap and not on the arm rest, so he’d really had to go for it. And he did.

His thumb stroked mine, and he glanced over at me as he drove, seeming to take me in. He tucked my hair behind my ear, sending shivers down my spine. But at the end of the evening, he didn’t kiss me goodnight. And I was immensely glad. 

I was surprised at myself for being pleased by the lack of goodnight kiss, so I mentally explored my reaction. I decided that I wanted him to kiss me, but I also had come to hope that Seth really was every bit the kind, honorable gentleman he seemed to be. So I was glad he continued to show himself to be a slow, steady, respectful man of character.

Seth hugged me goodnight, asking if I had anyone to take me to the airport for my business trip in the morning. Ashley had offered – wonderful friend that she is – but I told Seth what I’d told her. “I was planning on parking at the airport and expensing it. The company is willing to pay for parking.”

“What if I wanted to take you to the airport? Would that be okay?” He wanted to be the last to see me and the first to welcome me home. My heart melted.

“Yes,” I said with a smile, “That would be okay.”

“Great!” He smiled back. “Why don’t we go to church together in the morning; then we can stop by your apartment to get your luggage, and I can take you straight to the airport from there?”

I don’t usually look forward to business travel, but a morning of fellowship followed by a drive to the airport with Seth? This man had definitely given me something to look forward to!

Authentically Aurora