*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
Christmas is the time of year when families get together to be joyful and happy. Who doesn't enjoy seeing family and friends for any special occasion?
Well, one year, a friend of the family did something that changed my mind.
My husband had a close friend who came to our house to visit for the holidays, bringing his wife along. I never liked her, and I was about to find out why my instincts about her were correct.
We were having a good time, at first. The conversation was flowing like wine. Suddenly, the man's wife stood up and asked me to make her a cup of tea. "I'll help you in the kitchen," she said. "I want to make sure you do it exactly the way I like it."
If I had reservations about her in the first place, that didn't help.
We went into the kitchen, and I began boiling water for her tea.
"Stop," she said. "I don't really want a cup of tea. I wanted to get you alone so I could talk to you about your husband."
I turned off the burner on the stove. "Excuse me?" I said.
"Your husband," she repeated. "Your husband's having an affair with an older woman in the neighborhood."
I wish I could say I was totally surprised. All I felt was annoyance. How dare she trick me into coming into the kitchen under the guise of making her a cup of tea?
"Your husband told my husband all about it," she continued. "So I know it's true."
I knew my husband was a cheater. I didn't need her to tell me, especially not on Christmas. Couldn't I just enjoy the holidays like everyone else?
She wasn't done yet.
"I feel so bad for you," she said. Her ear-to-ear grin told me she was enjoying this more than she cared to admit.
I didn't think she felt bad at all. Otherwise, she wouldn't be grinning like the Cheshire cat.
"Please don't tell anyone I told you," she said. "Especially my husband. He says I gossip too much as it is."
"I wonder why he would say something like that," I muttered. It was the first time I'd spoken since putting away the tea bags.
"My husband would be so angry if he knew I told you," she said. "He says I can't keep a secret to save my life."
Who in their right mind visits someone on Christmas Day to tell them their spouse is having an affair? I thought.
I was in a sour mood for the rest of the day. When my husband asked me what was wrong, I told him everything.
He just laughed.
If that wasn't enough, I later came to suspect my husband of having an affair with the same lady who asked me to make her a cup of tea.
I never could have expected the Christmas Day surprise I got that year. It gave me a new perspective on the holidays—and on gossiping.
It's been many years since then, but I still remember how it felt to be betrayed like that. And I still think about it every holiday season years later even though I'm happily divorced today.
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