• 68°

Peggy Keener: Marriage saved by doughnuts

I married Glen 63.5 years ago.

The setting for our wedding was a December fairyland of deep fresh snow ablaze with sparkling glints that perfectly mimicked rhinestone chips. It was a Minnesota winter wonderland at its most perfect. We were married in the evening and only candle light lit the church. To add to the wintry charm, permeating every corner of the new Westminster Presbyterian Church sanctuary, was the intoxicating scent of a dozen fresh-cut, unadorned evergreens. No wedding was ever simpler nor in its simplicity more beautiful.

A trip to Northern Minnesota in December of 1958 was probably not what most people had in mind for an idyllic honeymoon. Yet it was ours as it fit perfectly into the Christmas break we had from the University of Colorado. We didn’t need a fancy tropical resort.

We had each other.

Our honeymoon was a five-day drive to the Canadian border. It goes without saying that we were the only two vacationers in that barren frigid land. Going from one unoccupied motel to another, we danced the just-married fandango in cuddly matching sweatshirts with proprietors who were so hysterically overjoyed to have live paying guests, that they treated us like the royalty we knew we were.

The idea was to return to my family in Austin on Christmas Eve. Marriage! Christmas! A more magical plan was never conceived. I was especially excited because I had a very special surprise for Glen. In the time leading up to our wedding, I had learned to knit. I was like a possessed soul as the needles clicked away for I was creating a matchless, flawless, infinitely sublime lambswool sweater for my new husband.

Click, clack! Click, clack! Then as I worked away on the sleeves, something significant happened. My knitting teacher went on vacation. Her departure left me high and dry in the knitting instruction department. But, did I fret? No. I was enjoying myself too much, so I went right on ferociously knitting. The major flaw in all my zeal was that the teacher had failed to teach me how to stop!

In every other respect the sweater was turning out beautifully. There was nary a mistake anywhere. I would, however, be the first to admit that the sleeves were a tad long. Okay, really long. Gosh, where was that teacher when I really needed her? Still, I saw the sleeves as only a minor flaw because the rest of the sweater was so unerringly splendid. Besides, Glen would probably not even notice. With this clouded thinking masked by my anticipation, I wrapped up the sweater and carefully placed in under the Christmas tree.

You see, this sweater was way more than just a sweater. It represented … revealed? … everything to Glen. Don’t you see? It was the living proof of what an industrious, clever, creative wife he had just married. In my book, everything was riding on its impact.

Christmas Eve was a stunning winter wonderland as we pulled into the driveway of my parents’ home. Everyone was waiting for us. After much revelry and a sumptuous meal, we all gathered around our large, glowing, be-tinseled tree. I was certain that everyone could hear the beating of my heart as I looked across the living room at my new husband.

Mom began to distribute the gifts. As the pile diminished, she reached for my box and handed it to Glen. As he took it in his hands, my racing heart turned into a-fib. Then suddenly spasmodic hiccups took hold of my wobbly heart. This was it. The moment of truth. Would I pass muster?

Glen held the box, turning it this way and that as he admired the wrapping. Then ever so carefully he began to open it. As he lifted the lid, the sweater was revealed. It was gorgeous! A lambswool creation, perfect in every way. And when he learned that I, his adoring new bride, had made it just for him with my own two hands, our love was sealed tighter than Elmer’s Glue.

Glen stood, slowly raised the sweater up high, slid it over his head, then down upon his shoulders. As each hand glided into a sleeve, it continued to glide … and glide … and glide. Glen stood there with six inches of extra sleeve hanging off each arm.

This was the test that I had spoken of earlier; the moment of truth. What Glen would do next could be the kiss of death to an otherwise gloriously burgeoning union.

Then slowly and very precisely my new husband began to roll up the right sleeve, then the left. All eyes were upon him. I was not breathing. Then looking at me with a love that could melt glacial ice, Glen did a perfect three-point-pivot, modeling his new sweater. Each wrist was encircled with an extra large knitted doughnut. If fit like a dream!

Yes, he’d do. He’d do nicely.

Glen wore that sweater for twenty-five years. One day when I could no longer be reminded of my errant creative ways, I gave it to a man with exceptionally long arms.

(This is an excerpt taken from “Wondahful Mammaries.”)