Once Upon a Christmas Dreary ….

It happened years ago. He had just moved to Rhode Island to take a new job. She stayed home in New Jersey to look after the two girls and mind the house for the two months until they could be together again.

He was nervous about moving the family so far away and the prospect of taking over a stressful job during the bleakest period of the year. To conserve precious funds he slept nights on the sofa of a coworker and lived out of a suitcase.

She was in the late stages of pregnancy with their third child and had to handle the selling of the house and the packing almost by herself.

It was cold that year, and as dark as Decembers usually are. He was preoccupied with his new duties, but conscious of being in a strange place and lonely without her and the children. She was beyond loneliness — heavy with child, frantic with cooking, cleaning, and dressing the kids for school, and tired of endless negotiations with lawyers.

They talked frequently by telephone. As often as he could he traveled home to New Jersey on the weekends. He had to fight with college students over the few seats that were left out of Providence station, often forced to standing in the windy draft between cars until the train reached Penn Station.

They agreed not to exchange presents that year because of the difficult situation they were in. Alone at night she questioned whether they were doing the right thing. Once, she asked him to borrow a car and go back and look again at the home they had bought in Barrington and reassure her that it would be all right.

They were supposed to close on their New Jersey home Dec. 15 but at the last minute the lawyers changed the date to Jan. 2 for tax purposes. That evening they packed the kids in the car and drove to Rhode Island, where they were to meet the moving van the next day.

They nearly ran out of gas in Connecticut and spent a good hour looking for a service station. At midnight, they finally arrived at the old Esquire Motel in Seekonk. After all the packing and moving, the stressful negotiations over the house and the long drive they fell, exhausted, on the Esquire’s beds and slept. The next morning they found their house plants frozen in the trunk of the car.

They moved into their house on Annawamscutt Road that day, wondering what they had done with their lives. It had been a bleak holiday, overshadowed by the uncertainty and the apprehension of a major change. In fact, it was not until the move was completed that they realized a Christmas had gone by and they had barely noticed. It had been a hollow season.

A month later they still hadn’t unpacked all their boxes when their third child, a son, was born.

That was nearly 30 years ago. The children have now grown and left the incubator . There have been many cheerful Christmases. The dream of a new life in a quiet New England village by the sea found fulfillment in the years that passed. The soccer games, the family nights at school, zoning controversies, cable TV, coffee-colored water, three hurricanes, “the Independent Man,” vacations on the Cape, high school graduations, “Golden Mile” traffic jams, Buddy clubbing a rival with a fireplace log…..

And with it all the realization that the plan they formed one summer day on a dock while passing through Jamestown had proven in the end to be the right one.

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