Rachel and Colin Meredith, both aged twenty, hang glass balls on their Christmas tree. It is the first Christmas as a couple, their first Christmas in their own home in Orangeville. The house is small, white, and wooden, with gingerbread trim on the porch; it could use a few repairs, but Colin is a strong young man. The down payment on the house was their wedding gift from Colin's father, but the mortgage payments are easy with the salary Colin makes at the factory. "Perhaps next Christmas will be the first for our first child," Rachel says, and Colin kisses her; she also hopes that next Christmas, they'll be able to buy some of the stained-glass ornaments they sell at the shops in town; money is only a little tight this year with establishing a household.
Bernard and Rachel Meredith sip eggnog at the kitchen table of their new home in Toronto. This is the couple's first Christmas together; they married in the summer after Bernard, aged twenty-two, graduated from the University of Toronto. Rachel, nee Shaw, twenty-three, was happy to leave her job as a clerk at a dress shop in Orangeville and join Bernard in Toronto. Bernard is a junior accountant at a firm now; they live in a brick house near St. Clair, purchased with Rachel's savings from her job. They expect their first child in the spring.
Rachel scrawls over the page from her diary. She can't decide on a future, can't decide on a boy, and it would be terribly embarassing to her if the Meredith boys were to know how indistinct they really are to her. It seems an easy enough set of virtues to decide between: Colin terribly handsome and moderately bright, Bernard moderately handsome and terribly bright, Bernard with a successful future in the city after his university education is complete, Colin with a successful future in town and no further education. Any other girl would be capable of deciding which of these was important to her. Perhaps she is in love with Colin. Perhaps she is in love with Bernard. They're both nice boys; it is like asking a doting grandmother to decide on a favourite.