This year we decided to put up our first Christmas tree together. I had always done a tree in my single days, but once I started dating Brian, we spent so much time traveling to see each other, it didn't make a lot of sense to have a tree in either of our places. When we combined homes, we didn't have room for a tree. And then in the new house - well, Helen would have field-stripped a tree in about 20 seconds. So this year was the first time we both looked at each other and said, "Yeah, we ought to do this."
I dragged out two big boxes of decorations that I'd kept for this moment, and Brian came home with a bargain tree & stand from Home Depot. (Folks, that place has giant, fresh trees for a steal compared to the average tree lot. Check it out next year if you get a chance.) Once Brian made it through the traditional light cursing ceremony, we started with the ornaments, and I soon learned how hard it would be to get Helen to stay on track with this project. I'd put up an ornament, and she'd take it down to look at it. She didn't quite have the hang of putting them back, so as soon as I could decorate, the tree was getting undecorated.
Finally I made some headway, and we spent a couple of weeks letting Helen plug in the lights at night. She really enjoyed having it and talked about it all the time. Brian & I both patted each other on the back for making the holiday so special for her this year.
But there's something about the day after Christmas makes a tree instantly obsolete. We came home from our nice holiday with family to see this rapidly drying tree in our living room, and the only thing I could think of was the work involved in taking it down. Let's leave it up a little longer, I pleaded, hoping to get to a weekend where I could take care of that giant chore. Thinking of the path of needles everywhere in the house as we dragged it out to the car and then cleaning out the car - it was just too exhausting to consider tackling on a weeknight.
Of course, the weekend arrived, and we just played lazy the whole time, so then it's another week with a tree in the house that just reminds me it's not Christmas anymore, and there's work ahead of us to make it all disappear.
So imagine my surprise when I got home the other night, and the living room was spotless. No tree, no needles, and the whole place looked like a million bucks. I was overjoyed to learn Brian had taken the afternoon to get it done. It was literally breathtaking to have all of that work mentally checked off as we moved into the New Year, and at that moment, I was so proud to be married to him.
Helen turned, looked at me, and said, "Santa take tree away?"