Tag Archives: Lights

Christmas Tree Chronicles

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.

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay.

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.

Voilà! Christmas!

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?

When Hubby’s Gone

When my husband occasionally takes a job-related trip, I don’t blink an eye. As a medical student, resident, then small-town doctor, he considered hospitals his home away from home. Or was our home the home away from home?

We never got that straight. But we worked it out.

Those early days proved challenging. Alone in a big-city apartment, this small-town girl read thick books to fill nighttime hours. I went to the grocery after dark only if my books weighed more than me. I braved the laundromat only if the hamper attracted flies.

A new basement apartment expanded the all-night-alone experience. Window sills were at sidewalk level. While eating dinner, we watched anonymous feet and legs walking past.

When Hubby spent the night at the hospital, the thought of feet kicking in screens kept me wide-eyed. I sang along with “The Star-Spangled Banner” and saluted the flag when television stations went off the air. Since continuous noise forms a shield no criminal can penetrate, I turned on the radio. I triple-checked the dead bolt.

Why “dead”? Why not “alive bolt”?

Stop, I prodded myself. This is the era of Charlie’s Angels. Women don’t have to live scared.

But I didn’t own a gun or know karate. Worse, my hair refused to do the Farrah Fawcett thing.

Should I block the door with heavy furniture? Given our basement windows, not overly effective. Perhaps create a burglar alarm using Pepsi cans, á la my dad?

Outside stairways creaked. Anonymous feet lurked. …

My creativity shifted into overdrive. Maybe I’d grease the entrance and window sills with Crisco®?

But what if Hubby received an unexpected night off?

Hey, it could happen.

I decided to leave the bathroom light on. After all, science has proved all-night bathroom lights morph into deadly lasers that zap intruders, then flush them down the toilet.

What, that would never happen?

How do you know?

Please do not knock my imagination, as Hubby and I eventually discovered our apartment complex was a major drug center. Still, thanks to TV, radio static and vigilant bathroom light, I suffered no harm. Many pushers never made it back to the street.

Fast-forward four decades. Hubby’s gone tonight on a rare trip.

I will handle nighttime like a pro, as we live in a small town. No scary feet tramp past window sills. I turn off the TV and radio before retiring. I even click off the bathroom light.

I am dead asleep when the phone rings. Hubby, leaving early, will arrive soon.

See, it can happen.

But how do I un-Crisco the doors and windows?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you follow a different nighttime routine when your spouse is away?