Tis the time of year to reminisce. With all of the Christmas preparations going on, some memories of Christmases past have started to surface. Naturally, they’re funny.
The funniest memories have to do with the tree. There are several Christmas’s worth of tree stories so I’ll avoid possible overdose by telling one at a time. Seriously, they’re funny.
We were married in August of ’97 and were able to spend a month together before we had to separate: Father stayed in place to teach and I moved back to Georgia for my last quarter of nursing school. I was so anxious to be back with him that I eschewed graduation, opting to have my diploma mailed to me, and left for Alabama three days early, right after the pinning ceremony.
I got there less than two weeks before Christmas and naturally nothing had been done. After all, we wanted to decorate and prepare together. The morning after I got there, while I was still in bed, Father had a call from someone at his school asking if I were a nurse and had graduated. Her husband was a doctor and needed someone that morning in his office to substitute. His substitute was actually out with strep throat. I said that if they didn’t care that I wasn’t in uniform (they were in a box somewhere) I’d come in to help. Well, to finish out that story, the original and the replacement never came back so I worked there for the next two years before seminary. Easiest job search I’ve ever done.
However nice it was to have a job, the fact remained that it was just before Christmas and we didn’t have a lot of time to get ready. We finally managed to go out to find a tree the week of Christmas and the pickings were slim. I was ready to settle for a dinky one, thinking I could dress it up (a la Charlie Brown), but Father insisted that our first tree be nice. We then found one somewhere else for what was then an outrageous sum. I had to admit that it was a beautiful tree. I think it was a Frasier fir (my favorite).
We set it up in the front room. (Ok, I need to explain the house a little: We lived in a very old house without central heat. It was built on a shotgun shack plan for the most part and the heater was in the center of the house.) By putting the tree in the front of the house we were capitalizing on the fact that it was in one of the front windows and thus visible from outside. [Note: only visible with lights on. This is important.] On the other hand, this room was very cold. We tended to live in about four rooms during the winter with rolled up rugs at all the doors because we couldn’t get the rest of the house to heat up.
So, there was the tree in all its glory. You could see the lights from the street and it was very cozy looking. It was anything but cozy inside and we were in coats to decorate it. The presents, as they arrived, were put under it and we gave it one more smile and shut the door.
On Christmas morning, we went into the front room to open presents (we couldn’t go to church because the roads were shut down due to an ice storm) and the first things we opened were from my parents: two matching fleece jackets. We immediately put them on! We had little presents for our two cats, Lucy and Ethel but they wouldn’t come any farther into the room than the doorway. As soon as we were done unwrapping, we shiveringly gathered up the presents and the wrapping, unplugged the lights, and departed the room, never to return.
You think I’m kidding?
Spring finally came to northern Alabama (it was pretty cold that year) and one day I was looking for a specific china serving dish. After a while, I thought it might be in an antique dresser I had in the front room and I dragged open the door (it was a little stuck) to look for the dish. I stopped in surprise and forgot all about the dish.
Yep, you guessed it. There was the tree.
Still decorated, still with lights on it (not plugged in, thank goodness). In fact, because it had been so cold, it looked perfectly preserved, still green. After gaping at it for a moment, I backed out and shut the door, deciding that I didn’t want to miss Father’s expression when he saw it. When he got home from school I walked him to the door and opened it. Ditto the expression. We laughed pretty hard at ourselves and set about to take the ornaments and lights off. I reached up for the first ornament near the top of the tree. At the slight vibration, every single needle fell off the tree and formed a perfect circle of green at its base. Every. Single. Needle.
Well, we got everything off and Father dragged the carcass across the street and threw it far, far back in the woods while I swept up several pounds of needles. He said he didn’t want the garbage men to see it.
We never did leave the tree up that long again, but the very next year we had another hilarious tree incident. I’ll leave that one for next time.