But this year we sold our home with its spacious and vaulted living room and moved into a small duplex while my husband's back in school full time. We knew we would have to go with a much smaller tree this holiday.
As timing would have it, our first-born son was married in a city ten hours away ten days ago, and the past week was hectic with end of semester demands on my time as a teacher, and we still had most of our Christmas shopping to do, and then we had a bitterly cold and snowy Saturday, and well . . . we forgot to shop for the tree until Christmas eve day. Our local nurseries were closed. By the time we found a dead tree at WalMart and another pitiful casualty at Lowes Hardware, we had decided to finish our other shopping and just pull out the old artificial standby from the garage later.
Of course, that would be the single-car-garage-turned-storage-unit that holds everything we didn't sell or give away during the down-sizing last August. Turns out the Christmas tree box is THE foundation upon which sits every other box, mattress, or piece of furniture in our garage. If we could somehow manage to pull it out--most likely a physical impossibility--the whole Jenga tower would come crashing down.
We discovered this at 6 pm. My husband and youngest son made a mad dash to the stores for another artificial tree. They were all closed except for a grocery store with a small floral department--and they were pulling the gates shut on even that. Bob grabbed a holiday decoration that most closely resembles a two-by-four with green fuzzies on it, but--for the uneducated--is really a four-foot-tall Charlie Brown Christmas tree.
Our college-aged daughter laughed/cried when she got home from her job at the mall. Then she and our sulking thirteen-year-old Caleb strung it with a very short strand of lights. We apologized profusely to the kids--the tree playing such a key role in our Christmas eve tradition. Then we turned on the Christmas music, poured up the non-alcoholic eggnog, began to laugh together, decked the thing out with this year's ornaments and Caleb's keepsakes, loaded it with tinsel, and realized it didn't matter too much after all. Took us two minutes and thirty-eight seconds, total.
Family, love, laughter, and forgiveness triumphed. And, therefore, so did the spirit of this holiday season.
God bless you, loved ones!