We agreed there would be no Christmas tree this year.
Junior has been on tour, and he only just got back. So spending $30-$40 on a tree for a week just didn’t make any sense.
But, of course, we stopped at all the Christmas tree places on the side of the road. Just to, you know, check.
Because, even though we decided against getting a tree this year, we thought that, you know, if we found somebody that was closing out their stock, we’d maybe consider getting one at the last minute.
So I stopped at the neighborhood grocery store store today. They still wanted $30 for the last ratty little tree they had, and they declined to bargain with me for the straggler, so that was that.
We decided there would be no Christmas tree. It would just be a waste of money, so that was that.
But on the drive home there were a few comments, you know, about the concept of not actually having a Christmas tree.
For the very first time.
So I dropped off the Missus and went back out in search of a Christmas tree. For a bargain.
As I type this, my bargain Christmas tree is sitting in our big old stand on the porch, getting into shape so we can bring it into the house tomorrow.
Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree…
At some pre-arranged signal, we will put on the Christmas music, don the Christmas headgear (Christmas ball antlers for the Missus, Elf Hat with Ears for Junior, and a Christmas baseball cap and necktie for Dad), and begin the decoration ceremony.
Because tradition is an important thing.
In fact, it may be one of THE important things.
One of my nephews takes his kids out in the country each year to cut down a live Christmas tree; the colder it is, the better. I like that a lot.
I think we might have done that once somewhere along the way, but I’m not sure.
But I am sure that we have had a Christmas tree every year since my son was born.
After years alone, and years in Singapore, when I got hitched and then we had Junior, I had this strong homing instinct to have a Christmas tree.
So we have had many. Over the years, our decoration strategy has been pretty consistent.
The lights go on first. (Well, at least after Junior or I start bleeding, after getting poked while putting up the tree in the front room).
Then Junior and I tag team, putting up the eclectic bunch of Christmas decorations we’ve collected over the last two or three decades.
I strategically hang half-a-dozen big red Christmas balls, which are sort of like putting up stakes to mark your property. Then we start hanging up the smaller bits and pieces.
My favorites are the ones that Junior and his Mom made when he was little. They were made out of the cardboard egg-holders that you used to get — painted, covered with glitter, and hung with a pipe cleaner on top.
Then comes the collection of home-made sussies that include: little crocheted Christmas wreathes; sad, old styrofoam balls still covered with only a hint or two of glitter; and the white plastic star that absolutely must crown the tree — even if the trunk has to be cut down to the nub so the tree fits in the room.
At the very end, we lay on the icicles — a lot or a little, depending on whether we can buy new ones or scrounge old ones from remnants of previous Christmas trees.
And when the work has been done, we turn off the overhead lights, turn on the Christmas tree lights, and just marvel at the Christmas tree.
At our Christmas tree.
Because nowhere else on the planet is there a tree that looks exactly like ours, with our family goo-ga’s and bobbles, tradition and love.
And it is good.
When I was little, and money was tight, I remember seeing all the packages that my Mom and sisters had so carefully wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree. And, for that moment, I felt rich.
When I was in university, celebrating Christmas with my big sister’s family in Texas, I will never forget the Christmas Eve that my brother-in-law and I put my niece’s new saddle under the Christmas tree, then went out into the freezing cold about 3 a.m. to bring back her pony from a nearby farm.
We tied a ribbon from her saddle that ran outside to the pony, then got about two hours sleep before her squeals woke us up on Christmas morning. I will never forget her eyes getting as big as saucers when she saw her saddle and prayed under her breath, “please God, let it be.”
I also have a wonderful memory, and photo, of me, the Missus, Junior at age 1, and my Mom gathered around our huge Christmas tree in Houston.
I know that year wasn’t perfect. Junior had a fever and was a bit fussy for the photo. And my Mom was not feeling well either. But it was important to me to get a photo of my family, and my Mom, under My Christmas Tree.
It was sort of a milestone, marking the Christmas I was a grown up, with a wife, a son, a brand new beautiful house, and my Mom as our guest.
For us, there are just too many wonderful memories associated with Christmas trees to ever forgo the tradition.
Even so, we’ll probably try again next year, because we are cheapos.
Junior will be on tour with some band, or opera company. The Missus and I will talk about how much the tree costs, for such a short time, and that we really should give it a miss.
But, in the end, we will buy another Christmas tree.
We will decorate it as we play Christmas music and eat hand-made Christmas cookies.
And, on the big table, we will put out our Nativity Scene.
We’ll think about our life, our family, our blessings, and our Savior.
Because that’s what it’s all about.
Merry Christmas to you and yours from me and mine, way down under in New Zealand.
Click HERE for other Oklahoma memories.