Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Year We Had Two Christmas Trees

I've mentioned before that I dropped out of college in the middle of my sophomore year, having the intention of starving in a garret and writing the great American novel, and that I did neither. Instead I hippied around and got pregnant and then got married and then got pregnant again while in the process of getting divorced.

I was readmitted to college the same day I went to court for my divorce and gave birth to Julie the next day. Busy week, that. So, there I was with two little children and very little money, going to college for two years. We were usually pretty broke all year long, which wasn't a great hardship because the kids didn't know any different and I was happy with life.




Christmas trees were purchased Christmas eve -- except that when you turn up with two kids in a stroller late Christmas eve, they let you choose your tree and then don't let you pay. Or, at least, that was my experience. I would decorate the tree after the kids were in bed, and they would wake up to it. Decorations were popcorn and cranberry strings and origami cranes and frogs. Pretty basic and pretty cheap. Fun.


The Christmas after I graduated I could finally afford to get a tree ahead of time and to buy ornaments. I planned it all carefully, making sure that the ornaments went with each other, that the tree was lovely. I added the tinsel one strand at a time, rearranged ornaments until they were balanced. It was, to me, a work of art.

And then Richard started bringing home decorations for the tree that he was making in nursery school. Ugly decorations that he was making in nursery school. And we had to hang them on my tree -- the tree I had been so proud of, so pleased with, so satisfied.

This had gone on for a few days when the kids and I were over at my parents house and while the kids were playing in the back yard, I told Mama and Daddy about this situation. About how disappointed I was but how unable to disappoint Richard I also was.

The next day, Daddy came over with a small Christmas tree. He told Richard that I had told him about all of the lovely decorations he was making at school and Grandpa had decided that it would be wonderful to have a tree just for those decorations.

The old man did have grace.

16 comments:

Mary Lou said...

I cant wait every year until I find the green Christmas Leggs Egg, and the smuckers jelly lid with santas picture glued into it, and the paper clips and felt ice skates. I had to let go of the marshmallow snowmen after a tour of duty in the SOuth, and the candy cane horses because they too melted. But I still have those others to remind me of when my kids were little and actually came home for Christmas!

Anvilcloud said...

But which tree do you prefer now?

J said...

Oh Grandpa, he could do the best things, huh?

jay lassiter said...

we are boycotting the tree at home this year. thankfully they will have one in Seattle at my brother's when we get there on dec. 20th.

thanks for the sweet story and for the pix which of course tell a thousand words!!

Joy Des Jardins said...

Your dad was a gem!

Never That Easy said...

That's so sweet, and such a great idea!

Maya's Granny said...

Yes, my Dad was sweet and could do the best things. It just amazed me at the time that he had thought about my being disappointed -- I hadn't mentioned it intending for anyone to find a solution, it was just one of a number of things that we talked about that day. Just an off-hand remark, and he had seriously considered how to fix it for both Richard and me.

Maya's Granny said...

AC -- I must be an unnatural mother. I still prefer the one I decorated.

Betty said...

I must admit, I still love the home made ornaments. My kids and I hand painted some wooden ornaments and I still hang some of them on my tree. My daughter has some that she puts on her tree, too. What a good idea your dad had.

Maya's Granny said...

Betty, Hand made ornaments are one thing -- I like them, too. But the illustrations I found for what Richard was bringing home are way nicer than the misshapen things that little four year old produced. They would have made wonderful Christmas cards that relatives would have treasured forever, but they were really ugly on a tree.

mjd said...

I think that I have learned something from reading your blog. When I was three, I remember going to The Crescent Avenue Seed and Feed to buy a tree with my dad on Christmas Eve. I always thought this was because my parents did not believe in starting the season early. However, perhaps they needed to buy a low priced tree too.
I enjoyed your story what a sweet memory.

gawilli said...

I still have a box of Christmas keepsakes from my kids. One in particular that comes to mind is a purple Santa that my son colored in first grade. When I visited his classroom his teacher said "Bet you can't tell which one belongs to Josh." I scoped out the row of Santa's that marched all the way around the room, all red but one. I knew that one was his. I love it find it in the box each Christmas! You are right, your dad was very gracious and how nice that was for your son.

Py Korry said...

Your dad knew a thing or two about politics. :-)

kenju said...

Well, that was an excellent solution to your problem! I wish I had thought of that when my kids were small....LOL

I suspect that you now treasure those same ornaments you couldn't tolerate back then.

Maya's Granny said...

Kenju,
I must be the most unnatural mother in the world. I don't treasure them at all. My mother has every letter I ever wrote to her and every gift any of us ever gave her -- and I look at some of the atrocities I made for her and just know that I fall far short of her standards.

Rain said...

Your father was also very creative :)