After spending most of the week writing about our Christmas traditions,
I thought it would be fitting to post a sweet Christmas story today,
written by my mom years ago.
This story hit close to home when Sam and I were celebrating our first Christmas together as a married couple having just moved to Houston to start graduate school, our living room sporting the last, dinky, mostly-dead Christmas tree Kroger had available, purchased just a few days before Christmas.
It was December of 1994. After many years of school, we were out to give "real life" a try. We left Provo the day before Thanksgiving, had a truly horrible Thanksgiving dinner somewhere in east Texas, and then arrived in Houston the day after. After searching frantically for a place to live, we found a suitable house to rent and then scurried to get our belongings all moved in before Scott had to start his new job on the 3rd of December. We had been in school for many years and we were happy to be finished with that part of our life.
As we settled in to the realities of "real life" the one that was hitting us the hardest was that even though we finally had a real job, there would be no check until mid December. We were used to living on very little and I had been able to collect some gifts for the children during the summer at garage sales, but we were a long way from home and family and had used all our money to get there and now had to find a way to live for a couple of weeks until we got paid. We didn't have a credit card, so this was taking some creativity.
If it wouldn't have been Christmas time we would have been okay, but there are always more things to spend your money on during the holidays. There were five small children who needed to eat and a new life that needed to be started. As we set up our new home we were able to put up the Christmas decorations that we had accumulated over the years, but there was no Christmas tree. We had always had a real tree and it looked like this year we would have to do without. The house looked quite festive but there was definitely something missing. As we explained to the children that we would do without a Christmas tree this year, we were met with despair.
We had always been close enough to family to spend Christmas with them and this would be our first one away from family and friends and there wasn't even any snow. How could we possibly even feel at all like Christmas without a tree? We survived the first few weeks of December but it was like an aching bruise, that there was no tree. A constant reminder of how different things really were.
On the 10th of December, Corban, who was eleven at the time, went for a walk. We lived quite close to a common Texas grocery store called Gerland's. He walked there and looked at the trees still for sale. Now, although we always had a real Christmas tree, it was usually very small and not incredibly beautiful. But he saw there what was to him a huge, beautiful tree, and since it was so close to Christmas, it was only ten dollars.
He came home bursting with excitement and full of joy. He had been able to save a few dollars through mowing lawns for people in Provo, and he had ten dollars and a plan.
"Mom," he breathlessly cried as he burst into the house. "There's a tree for only ten dollars at Gerland's. Can I buy it with my own money?"
After discussing whether this was a wise use of some hard-earned money or not, he grabbed his few dollars and his (younger) sisters, walked back to the store and purchased the tree. Then, even though it was just a few blocks home, it took all three of them to drag the tree home. By the time their dad got home from work, it was ready to have the bottom sawed off and to be put in the stand. This done, it was gleefully decorated with the decorations that we thought were going to have to stay boxed up that year.
This one simple act gave our whole family a feeling of well-being. Even though Houston was different than Utah, we were all together and it would be okay.
Christmas 1997, 3 years after this story took place
Just tell me that isn't the best live nativity you ever did see.