Memories Of Our First Christmas, And Our First Major Incompatibility

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Gregory searches for the perfect tree.

Saturday morning we packed ourselves into the van in search of our Christmas tree. This yearly ritual always brings back memories of our first cohabiting Christmas, when we blended together 2 different lifetimes of Christmas memories, and discovered our first real incompatibility.

Go back to the late 1990's. Back before we had kids, when we were living in a dumpy 500 square foot apartment. Imagine owning no lights, no ornaments, and no decorations. Picking the tree was the easy part. The real challenge came when we talked about what we would buy to decorate it. Greg had grown up with white lights and color coordinated, uniform glass ornaments. All blue and silver, or all red. Whatever. All round. All the same size. To Greg, this is what a Christmas tree was supposed to look like. Orderly. Sophisticated. To me, it was what they put up in a department store. Impersonal. Muted. Boring.

My ideal Christmas tree was a little different. We always had the multi-colored lights, with a hodgepodge of ornaments collected over 2 generations of Christmases. Old scratched silver and gold bells, sewn cloth ornaments, the gingerbread house my sister made out of a milk carton and some felt when she was in the brownies (still my favorite ornament to this day!). I loved the character of each different ornament and the fun, colored lights. I couldn't imagine opening gifts under a dull, colorless tree. We had found our first real incompatibility.

Here's what we did. Greg's birthday is early December. It's always a challenge to have to come up with 2 gifts in December and back then we were on a really tight budget. I wanted to find something meaningful, that we could afford. I thought and thought - about what he likes, what makes him happy. This made me think of all the joy and love he brought me. I wanted to spend all my Christmases with this man, no matter what color lights we used. Soon I knew what I had to do. I marched down to CVS, bought a few strands of white lights, and wrapped them in some birthday paper.

His birthday fell on a Friday night, and we celebrated by going to pick our tree. Then I gave him his present. Surprised but happy, he strung up the white lights. The next day we hit Walmart (yes, back then we did shop at Walmart). We bought a box of plain red, silver and gold glass balls. They were uniform. They were cheap. But they were special because they were the first ornaments we ever owned.

He had his boring white, red, gold and silver tree. About a week later, CVS was giving out free ornaments. A little ceramic bear in a Santa hat. I took one home and hung it on the back side of the tree. My little token to my childhood Christmas tree. When Greg got home from work, he noticed it immediately (how he found it so quickly, hidden in the back is beyond me). But he decided he could live with it and the CVS bear stayed on the tree.

I thought that would be the end, and decided I could live with endless Christmases of boring, uniform trees, so imagine my surprise Christmas morning when I found 3 strands of colored lights wrapped under our tree. 'For next year' Greg told me. And then we had our solution. One year we put up white lights, the next year colored. It has become our family tradition. Every year we've added a few unique ornaments to our uniform glass balls, and Greg has learned to love like them. This year is a white year, but I've come to love the white lights almost as much as I love the colored ones. They are brighter. The ornaments are easier to see, and sparkle more brightly in the bright white light. Most important, they remind me of that first Christmas.

Bookmark and Share


The Accidental Pharmacist said...

Your childhood tree was the lost twin of my childhood tree complete with homemade ornaments. Last year my mom packed up my ornaments and sent them out to me. Our little tree has never had more character.

Noelle said...

I love the older ornaments - so much fun!