I was at my desk, working diligently of course, staring at a blank screen and racking my brains for some combination of words that bypass blandness. If I had been more aware, perhaps I would have noticed the short delivery man walk into the newsroom, half-obscured by a bouquet of pink roses and white lilies so large that I'm surprised he didn't need some sort of a contraption to ferry it over. And if I had seen him headed towards my desk with such purpose, I may have had enough time to slink away and hide myself from him and his attention-seeking bouquet.
But, as luck would have it, I had my eyes fixed on a blinding, white laptop screen. The delivery man's arrival at my side was sudden, unexpected, and mildly confusing. Why is this man placing a bouquet of flowers on my desk, why does he know my name, why is he handing me a card with said name written on it in a strangely familiar scrawl? He deposited his delivery and made a run for it, probably because he is not paid enough to answer my bullet-like questions.
"I hope you like it," said the card. "An early Merry Christmas wish, with lotsa love." Signed? My spontaneous Mr "T".
My reaction was mixed. In the midst of squirming with embarrassment, I was secretly thrilled. I had never received a flower delivery before. I had never been the recipient of such a blatant display of love, such a romantic gesture, and in such a public venue as my place of work. Still, I had to give him a hard time.
"What were you thinking?" I hissed over the phone, trying to contain the volume of my voice within the "fierce whisper" decibels. "What am I going to tell people when they ask me why?"
Apparently, my question baffled him. "Why do you need an excuse? Just say your husband loves you," he said.
I was right to be concerned with what my colleagues and friends would think, but not in the way I thought. Once they had ruled out that it was neither my birthday nor our anniversary, their immediate question was: "What does Mr T have to apologise for?"
"He sent you flowers? Oh no, he must have done something bad... What happened?" asked my mother.
"Did he break something?" asked a colleague, eyeing the bouquet with an all-knowing look.
So flowers are either sent to celebrate an occasion, or to right a wrong, and never just because. Later, at home, as I arranged the stems in a vase and interrogated my husband on why exactly he saw fit to make me the centre of attention at work, I was told that he wanted to start a tradition.
"It's a nice way to wrap up the year," he said. "Expect an annual flower delivery from now on."
That word "annual" caught me quite by surprise. It means we have traditions together, customs that are unique to the two of us. Mr T and I hosted our second annual Christmas party this past weekend, and I can't get over how many "annual" things we have already.
Sure, we use Christmas as an excuse to deck our home with glittery baubles and have our friends over for a night of festivities, Santa hats, finger food and impromptu karaoke, but there is an added comfort in the traditions we have adopted for ourselves as a twosome.
As for the flowers - I can learn to enjoy the attention.