An Edwards Christmas Newlyweds: It's not quite their first Christmas together. But it is the first holiday for Tammy and Matt as wife and husband.

December 22, 1997|By Ken Fuson | Ken Fuson,SUN STAFF

He looks at her.

She looks at him.

They giggle.

This is how you act when you have been married six whole weeks, when you are head over heels in love, when you are just days away from celebrating your first Christmas together as husband and wife.

"We've always been known as kind of a mushy couple," Tammy Riley says.

Oops, check that. Riley was her maiden name. She's Tammy Edwards now. She sometimes struggles to remember herself.

Everything is so new. Matt and Tammy Edwards, husband and wife, at home in their new townhouse in Perry Hall, with an enormous Christmas tree in the corner of their dining room and a bright red silk poinsettia on their front door.

"Every once in awhile we just sit here and say, 'Whoa,' " she says.

These aren't swooning teens in the grip of a love coma. Matt is 27, Tammy is 26. They have known each other since middle school in Parkville.

But the first time Tammy saw him, really saw him, she knew.

That was eight years ago. Tammy had just graduated from high school. She spotted Matt in Ocean City, during senior week.

"I would have married him the first time we met," she says.

Matt was the cautious one. He said, let's wait until we have good jobs and money in the bank and a roof over our heads.

"There was never any doubt in my mind, but I wasn't quite ready," he says. "I wasn't settled."

Tammy returned to Parkville. Matt remained in O.C., where he had a job. That first Christmas, she rode a Greyhound bus to meet him, two pillow cases stuffed with gifts and decorations next to her.

"I took up two seats," she says.

She bought him surfing clothes and an artsy ceramic statue. When it was Matt's turn to give, Tammy learned her boyfriend might be cautious when it came to marriage, but he was a free spirit when it came to Christmas.

"I pretty much go all out," he says.

He bought her clothes, a bottle of an Estee Lauder perfume called Beautiful and a ruby ring "with two little teeny-tiny chips."

The next year, Tammy took the Greyhound bus back to Ocean City. He made the trip her way the third year.

Matt still wasn't settled. He describes his life as "changing jobs and going to school and dropping out and getting another job."

He hit bottom four years ago.

"I was really down in the dumps. No job, car repossessed. Then I got serious."

He now works two jobs, as a loader and driver for United Parcel Service and as a shipping clerk for Fila sportswear in Sparks. Tammy works in the advertising department there.

Four years ago, he gave Tammy her most unusual Christmas gift, an enormous shark's tooth he wove a black rope through and turned into a necklace.

"He made me wear it to work," she says. "It was really embarrassing. It was so heavy it bruised my chest. Now it hangs in my car."

Her favorite Christmas was the next year, their fifth together.

"He gave me a promise ring," she says. "It was a very, very teeny-tiny diamond, but it made me more happy than you can imagine because I knew that one day it was going to happen.

"The next year he gave me one that was a little bit bigger. I knew he couldn't do too many more."

The following summer, they returned to O.C. for a vacation. Matt was digging for sand crabs when he began jumping up and down.

"Look! Look!" he shouted.

Tammy walked over. In Matt's hand was an engagement ring.

They bought the townhouse in January of this year, but Tammy stayed with her parents until the wedding.

"We wanted things to feel different when we got married," she explains.

The ceremony was held Nov. 8 at St. Stephen's Roman Catholic Church in Kingsville. They went on a Caribbean cruise for their honeymoon before returning to Perry Hall.

"I love doing the laundry and keeping the house clean," Tammy says. "Everybody says I'm playing house. Maybe that's true, but I'm having a great time."

They wanted this Christmas to be special. They didn't have a vault of cash -- the house and the wedding had taken care of that -- so Tammy gave Matt an option.

"I said I want a baby or a puppy."

They found the puppy in a pet store. Parts Japanese Chin and Chihuahua. Name is Ed. Likes to bite. Especially likes to bite Tammy's fingers.

"This is the best form of birth control I've ever seen," she jokes. "I love him to death, but he's a lot of work."

Ed is their big Christmas gift, but Tammy and Matt have others. This is the first Christmas morning she will not wake up in her parents' home. She and Matt will each open one gift in the morning, then save the rest for Christmas night, just like her family did.

They will take turns. She will open one present. Then he will open one. This is their tradition. He will go overboard. She will love it. That's their tradition, too.

"He's so thoughtful," Tammy says. "I have to tell you something so sweet he did. Three days after buying Ed, he sent me a dozen roses and this note: I love my new home. Love, Ed.

"He just does little things like that. All the guys in the office hate him because he makes them look bad."

Matt smiles and sighs.

"Tammy is just wonderful."

He looks at her.

She looks at him.

They giggle.

This is how you act when you have been married six whole weeks, when you're head over heels in love, when you know in your heart that the greatest Christmas gift you will ever receive is the person behind the present.

Pub Date: 12/22/97

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