It is Christmas time and I get all excited! I love this time of year – the traditions, being with family, the lights, the Christmas Story – it is a special time of the year!
I was thinking back 38 years ago – Dawn and I celebrated our first Christmas together after getting married. We were starting traditions that would last throughout the years. One of those traditions was getting a real Christmas tree.
Growing up, my parents had an artificial tree so the idea of a live tree was totally different. Dawn’s parents always had a real tree; she wanted to continue that with us.
But a little problem came up - neither one of us had ever purchased a real tree. We didn’t know what to look for or how to tell if the tree was fresh or not.
We went to the tree lot and walked around for what seemed like an hour before we decided on the perfect tree, or at least we thought it was the perfect tree. It had a really good shape and full branches. We bought the tree and then realized the second problem – how are we going to get the tree home. We ended up putting it in the trunk of the car and tying the lid down with string.
Back then we were living in a cute apartment in Old Town Portsmouth. We had a bay window in the living room and decided it was the perfect place to put the tree. From there it could be seen on street below. It would look so “Christmas-sy” with the lights and ornaments.
We didn’t have any decorations or lights for the tree so it was off to the store. We spent what seemed like a fortune on ornaments and garland and lights. We stayed up late that night decorating the tree. It looked amazing! Our first Christmas together with our first Christmas Tree. Everything was perfect!
Or so we thought.
Over the course of the next several days, we wrapped presents and placed them under the tree. That is when we first noticed it. At first, we didn’t know what that noise was – a tickling sound coming from the tree. Upon further inspection we realized what was happening. Our beautiful tree was dropping needles – not just a few but dozens all the time. It was so dry that it wouldn’t take water.
The closer to Christmas it got, the browner the needles were turning. I wasn’t sure it would make it to Christmas, but it did – barely. As we pulled the presents out from under the tree on Christmas morning, the more needles fell to the carpet below.
By the time we finished opening presents on our first Christmas morning the floor around our tree was covered - and I do mean covered - with needles.
A day or so after Christmas we decided the best thing was to take the tree down and put it to the street. Removing the lights and ornaments created even more needles falling to the floor. When all was said and done, we filled the vacuum bag to the brim with needles.
Another thing I remember about that Christmas – we had a little dog named Ebony. She was part poodle and part something else. She was all of about 10 pounds and totally black.
One night not long after we decorated the tree – oh and by the way, decorating included hanging real candy canes on the tree – we were sound asleep. Then Dawn woke up - to a crunching sound coming from under our bed.
She looked under the bed - and there was Ebony with a stash of several candy canes and she was crunching on one! When Dawn looked under the bed, Ebony growled at her. Ebony had decided that all those candy canes were hers and that was final!
Those memories of that very first Christmas together, even with the "not-so-perfect" tree and a dog stealing candy canes are precious. I encourage you to think back to a Christmas past where memories were made for you.
Dawn and I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! And remember, Jesus is the reason for the season!