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Dec. 25: A day for celebrating love

By Anita Creamer

He always sent her a dozen roses on Dec. 25, their anniversary.
The first two years of their marriage, he put up a tree, too.
He called it their anniversary tree.
Sandra Huit, 44, who converted to the Baha'i faith 25 years ago, doesn't celebrate Christmas. Baha'is believe that all the world's religions are merely a variety of different manifestations of one religions - "Well, it's much deeper than that," Huit of Fair Oaks, says - but they don't celebrate the holy days of all those many, separate religions.
But in any case, she remembers: "My husband was raised in a Christian family. He was agnostic, but Christmas was a big deal to him.
"As much as I loved him, I wanted to feel the excitement he felt - the presents and the tree and the lights and the spirit."
Most of all, the spirit.
So when she and Carl Huit, the man she'd met working in the post office in San Francisco, decided to get married in 1978, they chose Christmas Day as their wedding date.
"The third year we were married, he decided we didn't need the tree.
But I kept getting my dozen roses every year."
Until last year.
Carl, a diabetic, had health problems for more than a decade.
When he and Sandra were married, he was slowly losing his eyesight - one of the complications diabetes can cause - but surgery restored his vision.
They were living in Sacramento in 1983 when Carl was in an accident at work.
He suffered a severe head injury, which left him hemiplegic, or paralyzed on one side of his body.
"He came out of his coma believing in God," Sandra says.
So Carl, too, converted to the Baha'i faith, which Sandra says helped sustain him through the many medical complications and lingering infections that were among the long-term side effects of his head injury.
"But he had the most wonderful sense of humor," she says.
"It took him a while to think. He'd respond slowly.
"But he was so funny and so dear and very well-loved."
Carl Huit died on May 1, 1989.
On his headstone in Fair Oaks Cemetery is carved a nine-pointed star, a symbol of the Baha'i faith.
Sandra wears a tiny gold replica of the star on a chain around her neck, glimmering like a shimmering starburst.
"You know, it just depends on what you think life's all about, she says. "We think life's about developing your spiritual qualities.
"You don't really grow without challenge and pain, and Carl had enough of that.
"In that way, it was a wonderful release when he died. What we went through created a different intensity in our relationship.
"I don't want to wallow in self-pity, but anniversaries are a bit difficult now."
More difficult, really, because her anniversary isn't just another, ordinary day of the year.
It's an entire season, at least in our culture.
And the season surrounds us with so many symbols and messages that many of us somewhat callously regard Christmas as a national celebration rather than a religious holiday, with its own set of rites and traditions.

ON HER ANNIVERSARY last year, Sandra Huit spent the day peeling potatoes, helping with the Christmas dinner that Volunteers of America sponsors for the needy at its downtown center on Front Street.
"We had people coming up from the riverbanks to have dinner, she says.
But it's better to help someone else celebrate a happy time than spend the day alone, silently mourning.
And helping the needy is what Sandra plans to do on Tuesday, as well.
On the 12th anniversary of the day she and Carl were married - on the day she would have received a dozen long-stemmed red roses from the quiet man who had no trouble, despite his disability, making his feelings known - Sandra Huit will once again serve plate after plate of Christmas dinner to more than 100 folks who will glimpse the tiniest bit of the joys of the Christmas season only through a hot meal and a kind smile from strangers like her.
And on what would have been a happy day for Sandra and Carl Huit to celebrate as a couple, she continues alone to celebrate a new tradition infused with the same generosity of spirit that brought them together, so many years ago.

The Sacramento Bee, Thursday, December 20, 1990

©Copyright 1990, The Sacramento Bee

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