A Winter Rose

On his debonair arm at a gala this past weekend, Charming and I posed before our third Christmas tree this season. The unusually warm December air did not impair the holiday mood. In a bold red dress selected to match his attire, adorned with rubies and gold, hair upswept in curls, I hoped to be his princess that night. And after a little YouTube assistance where I learned to tie a bow tie, I drank in a long look at my escort. Charming was dashing.


Lest I gain opposition to the sugary-sweet fairy tale I just introduced, I must offer that I also had the stomach flu and spent much of the night before on the bathroom floor where it was cold and close to the only throne I needed. The day of the gala that I’d been anticipating for a month and a half, the event that would cross another item off my bucket list, I wasn’t sure if I’d get to put on the dress.

So I was grateful that a drugstore concoction managed to mask the symptoms just long enough for the ball. I was sick for days before. I was sick for days after. But that night, I was Charming’s. That night, courting courtesies set the stage for a romantic encounter. Amidst six hundred guests, we ate, drank, laughed, chatted, listened, socialized, and danced the night away. Indulge me. I’ve never had my own fairy tale before, and I should get to tell it as one.

There were moments at the gala where I lost myself looking at him as he engaged in conversation with other attendees. He is so perceptive that it almost casts a spell. In brief dialogues punctuated by bouts of music and ceremony, Charming managed to affirm nearly every person he spoke with that night. If I’d known how attractive I would find that quality to be, it would have been on my list of uncompromisible qualities in a future husband.

Driving back home after our weekend together, coaxing my stomach to rest for a three hour stretch, I considered that list, penned in a lined journal. My dating experiences now span three decades. Had I made this summer’s list years ago, not a single contender for my hand would have met the criteria. However, the list is ultimately a product of learning from past relationships. One could argue that it would not exist were it not for the lessons that came from Mr. Wrongs littered throughout time.

This list is similar in length to my Thirty Things to Do in My Thirties one, but its tone is far more serious. It’s final. It eliminates unworthy suitors. And though I am not a student of probability, I would posit that the more items there are on this list, the worse my chances of ever stumbling upon a man who is worthy of a chance at forever and always and a front porch swing.

Is it any wonder that I watched him that night in respect and awe? I’m not compromising on a single item on that list with him. He inspires me to add new qualities to it. He inspired me to make my Thirty list. He inspires me to be more, to be better. He inspires me to hope to expect more, to expect better. Whether this budding romance finds its resting place in Hallmark movies or confined to the pages of my writing, Charming will have made me more, made me better.

By the time I pulled up to my little rented house, thoughts of Charming had turned to unpacking efforts and a mental to do list. What greeted me at home stopped me in my tracks balancing suitcases, bags, and dress. My knock-out roses were in full bloom! In December! They had fared all summer and fall with only the occasional blossom.


When I planted the bush, I feared the location wasn’t right, that it didn’t get enough sunlight through the shade of my Magnolia trees at varied parts of the day. Now, the barren winter frames offer full light, and the unseasonal weather has enticed the roses to vibrancy. The clusters of pink petals in a backdrop of Christmas lights delighted me.

I didn’t abandon my gardening analogies intentionally. The changes in the garden simply ended. Then this dormant creature chides me to remember there’s growth even in the winter season. I didn’t expect it, yet knowledge of the laws of nature might have hinted toward the likelihood of the possibility. Somehow, I felt that I was adding the rose bush into my Christmas narrative. That the contrast of the buds to the candy cane lights was too stunning to ignore.

This is the first Christmas where I’m contributing my own narrative. As God writes my story, I’m recording it. It’s honest and near-sighted and momentary as I reflect on my current purview. It’s human revelation, not divine inspiration. I have no structured bell curve for plot development, just the current moment in the current scene. I can write this story because I trust that the Author will provide the best material, beyond what I could have dreamed up.

I can add to my lists. I can do more than thirty things in the next seven years. I can require more uncompromisible qualities of my future husband. Experience and self-reflection combine to foster forward growth. I wouldn’t have known to dream of roses in December. Now I do. They’re a part of this year’s Christmas story, a reminder that even in the winter, life can blossom, as displayed amid twinkling lights.

I also wouldn’t have known that I would want a husband who uplifts other in simple conversation. Now I do. And while Charming meets the ever growing criteria on my list, I can’t help but wonder if he has his own. And though I am not a student of probability, I would posit that the more items there are on his list, the worse my chances are of being one worthy of a chance at forever and always and a front porch swing.

For that matter, what are the chances that any two self-reflective, seasoned daters, will both meet the exponential criteria on each other’s lists? It would have to be a match made in heaven.

Sounds like a fairy tale, well the makings of one anyway. I can’t peek at the last page of the story to find out if I’m on Charming’s arm, another man’s, or no one’s. God wrote the content of that page, and if I trust Him with the desires of my heart, that page may hold a union free from compromise of either party. Or maybe I’ll be alone. I don’t have control over the story, just the keys.

There are roses in my Christmas lights, growth in the winter season. Just as I added the roses to my Christmas narrative, I added Charming. I loved this scene. And whether this budding romance finds its resting place in Hallmark movies or confined to these pages, Charming will have made me more, made me better. Maybe I could inspire him to add to his lists, and hopefully, I will have made him better, too.

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