He actually took quite a long time, and just as I began to get worried, he called from downstairs, threatening my physical integrity if I dared peep or step anywhere on the lower level of the house. So I remained in my room venturing out from time to time to see if he was still alert on my will to spy, only to find that his senses had been heightened to feline level as soon as I stepped out.
Finally he was done wrapping his presents and we got together to put the presents under our tiny 20 cm tall black Christmas tree. I went first, and pretentiously flared my two wrapped presents before his eyes, and then cautiously settled them next to the tree. When it was his turn, he pulled out a large bag. He had a very tranquil self-pleasing look on his face, boasting his sublime victory, as he pulled one present after the other from the bag and gently placed them next to the tree. When he got to bundle number eight, he paused to rearrange the packets and make some room for the ninth and finally, the tenth perfectly wrapped gift. I had been defeated.
Evening came and we had the house all to ourselves. All of its inhabitants had gone away to spend Christmas Eve with family. Grateful of our newfound intimacy, we began to prepare for our first Christmas dinner together.
I set the table and strategically placed a few tiny candles here and there, and turned on some music. Our rosť wine was perfectly chilled for our first toast of the evening, which superbly chaperoned the nibbles of Brie cheese and bursting fresh blueberries. We went through our pungent Mediterranean starters, finishing the bottle of wine before we had a chance to even start enjoying it.
We received phone calls from our families in Dubai and Buenos Aires wishing us the very best, missing us and for some reason, curious as to what we were eating for Christmas. We verbally when through our entire menu to make sure our moms were satisfied.
We continued eating and toasting until well past midnight when it was time to unveil the presents. I had been childishly eager to open them all night, curious as to what Ed could have gotten me in those ten creatively wrapped gifts. I gave him his presents first, a warm black and white striped sweater and a woolen beanie to keep his hairless head warm. He was delighted with his gifts and tried them on just as soon as he unwrapped them.
I got: two bottles of organic fruity juices I had been lusting after since we got here, the organic runny honey I had expressed my desire, two trays of lovely fresh asparagus (which got the prize for the weirdest present I ever got), two boxes of dark and white After 8's, a cute traveler's scrapbook for notes decorated with international immigration stamps, and Truman Capote's "In cold Blood", a masterfully picked classic by Ed perfect for my tube-ride reading, just as I had wanted! I suddenly felt like the princess signing "on the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...."
We went to bed holding each other, with bursting bellies and richer predilections, we had wonderfully celebrated our first Christmas Eve on the road; celebrated as was accustomed in our homeland. It had been warm and fun and intimate, and as many inaugural events, it promised to be the sole Christmas we would never forget.
When I awoke the next day, Ed was already getting dressed to go out shopping for my gifts. I tried to get hints from him by inquiring as to where he was going, or how long he was going to take, or how much he was going to spend, but his answers were all a water-tight "none of your business".