Wednesday, 5 December 2012
The one where the tree fell over . . .
As I was saying the other day, Todd and I don't really do a big Christmas Tree anymore, just a table top one. Our lounge area is far too small . . . and our telly too big (truth be known) for us to fit one in. You can't have a HUGE telly, a dog bed, a computer and a Christmas Tree all in a lounge that's about the right size for a family of Hobbits.
Every time I go to the shops though and see all those lovely firs . . . my heart longs for a real tree though, like the trees of my childhood. I was quite amazed when I moved over here to see "live" Christmas Trees. Christmas Trees in buckets, with a root ball and all that you are encouraged to then plant in the garden after Christmas is over. What a novel idea, I remember thinking the first time I saw one . . . and my soul has longed to have one ever since. Every year I find myself wandering around the ones in town and brushing my finger tips down the branches just for a smell . . . it smells so lovely.
I can still remember the excitement of my very first "adult" Christmas Tree. I was a young newly wed, living in Calgary, Alberta. We didn't have much money to buy a lot of the accoutrements and so our tree was held up in a Tobacco tin, Players actually. (We also couldn't afford to buy ready made cigarettes and so we rolled our own. So glad we both gave up that nasty habit!) It wasn't very pretty but it did the job. I have to laugh when I think about it. I was so naive back then . . . that was the same year that I bought a good deal on "chickens" which were really stewing hens and cooked us up a mess of rubber Chicken, which I then threw away as it was completely inedible or so I thought. Knowledge and experience over the years has taught me that had I only cooked it for several hours longer it would have been rather tasty!
That is also the Christmas Tree which got thrown out the back door on Christmas Day. Tis somewhat of a long story . . . but you just know I am going to tell it to you anyways. ☺☺☺
We had bought this tree for in our little apartment, which we basically only lived in for about three days. The day we moved into the apartment, my divorce papers arrived in the post. Not being one to let the grass grown under his feet, my ex and I were married that night by a Justice of the Peace. I wore a borrowed brown jumper as the moving men had lost my clothes, and my ex wore his service uniform. He nervously chewed bubble gum the whole way through the ceremony. We paid for it in pennies, nickles and dimes which we rolled up from our piggy bank, all of our wealth in the world. There are no photographs of the event as the people that stood up with us as witnesses took them on their camera (we didn't have one) and then got separated and divorced themselves.
The day after we got married, we were given a married quarter on the base . . . and so the tree, and all of our furniture were moved into the PMQ just a couple of days later. In all honesty, I have next to no recollection of that first apartment, except for the tree and the rubber chicken . . . oh and the memory of my eldest son Anthony, only two at the time, reaching up and touching the hot iron immediately after I told him not to touch it, it was hot. (He's always been a "hands" on type of learner.) I also remember we were sleeping on a mattress on the floor with Anthony in between us . . . as the movers had lost our beds. And that was the sum total of my honeymoon.
So, back to this poor tree. We were married on the 5th of December (which is today actually, funny how that goes . . . today would have been our 35th anniversary, but I digress). Buying a cut tree that early in the month is not really that great an idea, especially if all you have to set it in is a tobacco tin and you end up having to move it from one house to another early on. By the time Christmas Day actually rolled around, some three weeks later . . . it really had had the biscuit and was more branches than needles . . . we lovingly called it our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. It was a really meagre Christmas really . . . with rubber chickens, dried out trees, mattresses on the floor to sleep in, not a lot of money to buy Anthony much in the way of presents . . . but we didn't seem to mind. I think that's the resilience of youth.
It was a really lonely day for me though . . . my first one in my life in which I was far away from my immediate family, and I hadn't really had time to make any new friends yet. My husband fell asleep on the couch fairly early in the day (he was a shift worker), and about halfway through Christmas Day, as I was cooking the rubber chicken . . . Anthony went to get one of his toys from beneath the tree, and that dry old bedraggled tree toppled down on top of him, which made me scream in horror . . . of course!! I think any mother would when a whole Christmas Tree full of glass baubles falls over on top of their toddler. My husband, unappreciative of having been woken up in so abrupt a manner, jumped right up off the sofa, muttering expletives as he did so . . . picked up the tree and harpooned it out the back door into the garden. He then went immediately back to the sofa, lay down and went right back to sleep, leaving me and Anthony standing there . . . in a bit of shock I think. I quietly went out and took all of the decorations off the tree and packed them away. We didn't have many, but what we had I wanted to keep.
When our dinner was ready, he got up and wanted to know what had happened to the tree. He had no recollection at all of throwing it into the garden, so he must have been sleep walking really. We used to laugh about that first Christmas in the ensuing years . . . dodgy trees, rubber chickens and all. He would never put our tree out in the rubbish until about the end of January. He was not letting any Ukrainians steal something his hard earned money had paid for. He had heard they were known for doing as their Christmas Celebrations were a lot later than ours. Suffice it to say, we have BOTH matured a lot since then! I no longer cook rubber chickens and he has undoubtedly mellowed in his views of the world.
It's funny the things you remember isn't it? And to think . . . this whole diatribe came out of me beginning to tell you why we don't have a real tree and the smallness of our lounge . . .
“Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won't make it 'white'."
Over in The English Kitchen today . . . how NOT to make a Gingerbread Christmas Cookie Tree!
A thought for today . . .
"Lord, Thou knowest how busy I must be this day. If I forget thee, do not Thou forget me."
~The prayer of Sir Jacob Astley before the Battle of Edgehill, 1642.
Note: No Ukrainians, Christmas Trees or Toddlers were hurt in the writing of this post.