Our Christmas tree has been up since the 2nd. I have imagined the same thing you’re imagining now, needles all over the carpet by the 25th, baring a tree that is combustion waiting to happen. Usually, I am an organized person with contingency plans for my contingency plans. The best I can do this year is look out the bedroom window in relief knowing the escape route is fairly safe and the drop will cause no more harm than a broken wrist or ankle.
My husband LOVES the tree. Since our very first holiday season together, his joy in the tradition has been abundantly evident. He starts the weekend after Thanksgiving, “Let’s get the tree. Can we, huh, huh, can we?” I usually try to put him off until the 15th. This year the rules were relaxed. We choose the tree together. My husband looks them over and makes his selection. I note the deficiencies in his tree as I look for something better. I examine every tree on my way back to his original selection, which even the most ill informed observer would have recognized as the superior tree to begin with.
Like many families we have had good holidays and bad. We’ve had holidays when perfect happiness was in every breath we took. There are the obvious occasions, the first one when my husband made me stay awake until one minute after midnight on the 24th so I could open the diamond earrings he gave me. I had opened and rewrapped every other present under the tree. Yup, that’s the the kind of person I am; enterprising and creative. The earrings were the only surprise that year. It wasn’t the gift that was perfect as much as the expression on his face and the sentiment that motivated procuring the gift. Nobody ever loved me that much.
We had bacon and eggs for Christmas one year because that’s all we had in the fridge. My husband was a commercial fisherman; he was owed money that he hadn’t been paid. While I was at work on the 24th, my husband took the last of his dollars and got me all that he could afford to buy. It was our O. Henry holiday.
I would be hard pressed to decide which gift means more to me. The earrings represent the indulgence of an expansive new love but the ornament, bought at half price on Christmas Eve, illustrates an endurance that I never would have imagined either of us being called upon to demonstrate.