The other day I got to thinking about past Christmases, good and bad. I remembered being about 4 years old and staying up all night standing up on my little bed looking out the window trying to see Santa. I was so disappointed I couldn’t find him but the next morning there were still presents under the tree so I figured he must have sneaked in the back way.
I didn’t start to enjoy Christmas until I moved out on my own. Christmas with the stepmonster, an older brother who didn’t want to be there, and a father who often wasn’t just didn’t do much for me – it was forced and often fake. We spent most of our holidays with the stepmonster’s family and I simply never felt I belonged there. When I finally was able to move out and start my life on my own, my Christmas fun began. I pulled out all the stops and had such a good time decorating my live Charlie Brown Christmas tree. I was a poor secretary just scraping by so I made the ornaments for the tree but those years were some great Christmases. I’d wrap presents for me and my cat, Punkin, and have so much fun listening to Christmas music in my own little home.
When I married Devoted Spouse I warned him that I was somewhat of a Christmas nutcase and we would have a live tree with all the trimmings and lots and lots of presents (although they didn’t have to cost much). He went along with the program and one of our first Christmases I hosted a lunch party for some of the ladies I worked with. Devoted Spouse did the serving (complete with the requisite white towel draped across his arm). All the gals thought it was a scream that you could hardly walk into our living room because there were so many presents under and around the tree. Lesson learned: cut back a bit and don’t be so showy. You can have just as much fun with fewer gifts.
In our third year of marriage Devoted Spouse (who was Active Duty Air Force at the time) was reassigned to Mons, Belgium (one of the true armpits of the world). I was devastated by the news that we had to be in country right before Christmas and I think we actually arrived about the 20th or 21st of December. I was horrified. We were cooped up in a transient hotel in downtown Mons that was tres crappy and I was miserably unhappy and in culture shock. Some of the nice folks from my husband’s new office had a Christmas party to welcome us and one of our gifts was a small live evergreen. I was absolutely overcome with emotion at such a kind present. I took it back to the hotel room from Hades and placed it on top of the television set. I decorated it with earrings and it was one of the loveliest Christmas trees we’ve ever enjoyed.
I still have fun getting ready for Christmas, but now I have several artificial trees. Picking out the largest tree on the lot got expensive and I always felt bad because Devoted Spouse would have to spend so much time outside with the tree trying to cut the trunk enough to be able to fit the tree inside. Every once in awhile I long for a real tree and we get one, but this year we’ve stayed with the artificial, pre-lit type. It really is so much easier to take care of and you don’t have to worry about the tree getting too dry and perhaps catching fire.
I hope I always have that young at heart Christmas feeling!