Reporting from the frozen Midwest, under blue skies and temperatures in the mid forties, a true story of Christmas gone bad…. reported to the Agricoli by a close friend, who was a witness to the particulars.
It seems that the niece of the friend was gathered with her family in a state far away from the Low country. Also in attendance was her boyfriend of several years, in town for a few days of pre-Christmas cheer, and, perhaps, a larger mission. Given that the boyfriend is nearing the end of his time in Business School, and that a job in the successful family business is a distinct possibility, one could assume that there might be some sort of Announcement. Also given is that the boyfriend is a gentleman in the true Southern sense, with a deeply imbued sense of manners and a clear understanding of the Right Way of doing certain things. So, sensing an opportunity, he follows the niece’s father outside on a trip to gather some greens for the family supper.
With a firm voice and honest intentions, he asks the father for permission to marry his daughter. The father, being a low-key kind of dad, and not one to make a scene about such matters, gives his permission is an off-hand way, and does not ask about the particulars of the process. That he approves of the future son-in-law is another given……and the father knows that his only daughter truly loves the fellow. With the permission received, the son-in-law, somewhat taken aback by the low-key response, wanders back to the house, secure in the knowledge that the first hurdle in the matrimonial process has been cleared. Dad continues the gathering of greens.
Upon the father’s return to the manse, arms full of collards, he sees the family gathered in the gathering room. Maintaining his insouciance, he says to his only daughter, the apple of his eye, a truly wonderful daughter, "So, I hear you are getting married." Stunned silence greets his statement. Future son-in-law, a romantic and a planner, has not yet moved to the second phase of the process. Perhaps he was waiting for a romantic opportunity, or perhaps he planned to surprise the future bride with a set-up that included candles, champagne, and the like. The daughter, unaware that the question has been asked and permission received, is shocked. The mother of the bride, also in the dark, bursts into tears. Seeking a way out of the disaster, and trying to make the moment as special as can now be done, the future son-in-law takes the daughter to the basement to properly ask the daughter for her hand.
At that moment, oldest son returns home for the Holiday Season. He enters the gathering room and finds his father upset, his mother crying, his sister ashen and silent, and his future brother-in-law stunned. Assuming the worst, he believes that tragedy has befallen the family. Being a gentle, sensitive soul, he too bursts into tears.
In the end, peace is restored, happiness returns, and joy reenters the household. Dad is revealed, again, as an insensitive lout and a grinch. The wedding is set for August, the ring is beautiful, and all are blissfully happy, basking in the glow of another Christmas with the family gathered, for the last time, under one roof.
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