Finally, Alexander let go and wiped his tears away. "Hold on," he said. "Your gift is in the bedroom."
When Alexander returned, he couldn't deny the excitement that rose in his chest. "Close your eyes," he said, and Miriam happily obliged.
Standing behind Miriam, Alexander gently lifted Miriam's hair from her neck and put it over her shoulder. Tenderly, he draped a beautiful diamond necklace around Miriam's neck and fastened it securely.
"You can look," Alexander said.
Miriam ran to the bedroom, where she studied her reflection in the mirror. Breathless, she could only manage a gasp before she turned to Alexander.
"It's more beautiful than I could ever have hoped to imagine!" Miriam squealed, and Alexander's heart danced with joy at her response. After receiving Miriam's gift, Alexander had feared that Miriam would consider the necklace paltry compared to a painting, but his fears were proven wrong. Miriam could not have been more ecstatic if Alexander had handed her the world on a silver platter.
Rushing to Alexander, Miriam laughed and allowed herself to be lifted and spun. "It's perfect!" she squealed, unable to keep her hands off her necklace.
"Forget about Clarence and Marla," Alexander muttered good-naturedly. "Maybe I'd like to celebrate Christmas with you, instead."
Miriam laughed. "Alright, enough. I need to do my hair and change into my Sunday best, you know."
"If you must," Alexander teased. He strode into the kitchen. "Coffee?"
"I'd love some, yes," Miriam said.
As Alexander prepared the coffee - he'd become quite dependent on it, as of late - he looked out the window and tried to still his soul. All the past Christmases he'd spent in Hendrick had been a matter of Alexander and his so-called "friends" reveling in all manner of recklessness. His former lifestyle would be a most difficult one to abandon...
Still, even though his present stage of life was hell, Alexander knew that in some years' time, things would be easier. He'd be able to manage his struggles and obstacles with less difficulty.
And the best thing of it all was, Miriam would be there by Alexander's side, every step of the way.
Unless, of course, fate deemed otherwise.