Do you remember that first Christmas tree you, as an adult, hauled home?
Maybe you and your beloved cut a fragrant evergreen at a Christmas tree farm amid silvery snowfall.
Or you procured a Charlie Brown escapee. Maybe spent a precious dollar on a Salvation Army find.
I wish we, as newlyweds, had considered those alternatives. We had saved $50 for Christmas. Total. We possessed no lights or ornaments. We spent our bankroll on family gifts instead.
However, learning of our treeless holiday, neighbors offered bottom branches removed from theirs. Humming “Deck the Halls,” I accented the pine-scented boughs with little red balls.
The next year, I vowed to have a tree, though possibly decorated with popcorn strings and spray-painted macaroni — and the red balls.
My sister-in-law to the rescue: “Why didn’t you tell us you needed Christmas stuff? Mom gave us bunches.”
How I celebrated that tree in our government-subsidized apartment! We’d never go without one again — though some Decembers proved more adventurous than others.
Later, when Hubby was training day and night at a hospital, I stuffed our Christmas tree into our only car’s trunk.
Whew! Now to drag it downstairs to our basement apartment. Except, where were my keys?
With the tree. In the trunk.
Did I mention I was pregnant?
After a grand tour per city bus, I finally arrived at Hubby’s hospital. They paged him: “Dr. Phillips. Dr. Phillips. Your wife locked her keys in the car. Please report to the front desk.”
He displayed zero Christmas spirit, but he handed me his keys. After another city tour, I drove myself and the tree home.
Little did I know what Christmas tree tribulations awaited me as a parent.
The following year, Hubby and I set up the tree in our daughter’s playpen.
Why didn’t we corral her instead?
Child-raising theories then advocated free-range offspring. No dastardly playpen for our baby.
As our family expanded, Christmas ideals shrank to survival for us, the kids, and the tree. Trying to hide it from rampaging toddlers, we moved the tree to different locations each year. All in vain. Our son’s destructo gene zeroed in. I covered the tree’s lower branches with harmless ornaments, hoping he would eat those.
He climbed it.
To this day, I don’t know if our son consumed broken ornaments. He is 30-plus now, so I guess the destructo gene was linked to another granting him an iron stomach.
This year, our empty-nest tree mostly fears my smacking it with the vacuum. With no inkling of its predecessors’ sufferings, it basks in gentle serenity, glowing with lights, tinsel and memories.
Unnoticed, little red balls, polished by 45 Christmases, still shine.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What Christmas-tree tale can you tell?