The Ring.

For weeks, he’d been teasing me about my Christmas gift.

 “You’re going to love it,” he’d say.

“It’s something you’ve been wanting for ages,” he’d hint.

“Hands down, it’s the most expensive gift I’ve ever bought,” he’d crow.

Which, to me, could mean only one thing. He had bought me a ring. An engagement ring.

When Christmas Eve finally arrived, he told me he was taking me out to dinner. And that I should wear something fancy.

So, thinking I was about to get engaged, I pulled out all the stops. My hair was curled (and sprayed) to perfection. My lip liner was applied with care. And my dress? Well, it was much too short and way too tight for my comfort, but I knew it was his favorite.

At the appointed hour he arrived in his steel chariot (a red Chevy Sprint) to whisk me off to dinner. Our destination? Olive Garden (hey, we were broke college students. It was fancy to us).

I don’t remember much about the meal. I imagine I had the mushroom ravioli, because that’s what I always got, but I was too nervous to eat much. Every time he took a breath or shifted in his seat, I was sure The Moment had come.

But it wasn’t until the dinner plates were cleared that he made his move. Reaching into the inside pocket of his jacket, he pulled out a brightly wrapped box. A ring-sized box.

“Here. Open it.”

Fingers shaking, I ripped the paper off, revealing the burgundy velvet box inside. Taking a deep breath, I opened it, expecting to see the sparkle of a diamond winking back at me.

Not a plastic ghost.

But that’s what I saw. A Halloween ring featuring a smiling, Casper-style ghost. The kind you get for 25 cents out of a vending machine.

I blinked, thinking I was seeing things, but no. When I opened my eyes again, it was still there.

He chose that moment to start laughing uproariously. “You should see your face,” he said. “Oh man, what I wouldn’t give to have a camera right now.”

That’s when I started to cry. Quietly, so as not to alarm the other diners.

“What? Why are you crying? It was a joke! You’re supposed to be laughing!”

My only answer was a stifled sob.

“Come on, that wasn’t your real gift,” he said, fumbling around in his coat pocket. “I’ve got it here somewhere…here. Here it is.”

Sniffling quietly, I ripped the package open to reveal my second velvet box of the evening. This time, there were diamonds inside. Two of them.

He’d bought me diamond earrings. Beautiful diamond earrings. Earrings I later wore proudly.

But at that moment, all I could think about was the diamond solitaire that wasn’t. And at the sight of them? I cried even harder.

You know what the amazing thing is? When he finally got around to proposing a few months later, I actually said yes.

This post was written for the third challenge at Write of Passage. The assignment? Write about the most memorable Christmas gift you ever received. This, as you might imagine, wins. Hands down. Now go see what the other participants have to say for themselves!

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