There was a time in our lives when we didn’t have too much money. To be honest, we didn’t have any and hardly made it. We were forced to start all over new, and so we moved with our dogs and everything an SUV could hold across the country. It was a move we couldn’t afford, many things were left behind.
A fresh start in a city where we didn’t know anybody. We arrived, put up our air mattress and spread the dog beds throughout a 3-bedroom home, which we were able to rent without paying a deposit -because it was in need of some TLC, that nobody in their right state of mind was willing to give.
The house was empty, but it was our home, and we tried to make the best out of the situation. Our first serious investment was a foldup table with two folding chairs, which we bought for a whopping $30 at a drug store. Oh, those precious memories!
My husband found a job two days later, and our future started to look bright again. I became the garage sale queen and decorated our home with beautiful things, other people had tried to get rid off.
Seven months later we had a dining room set that I adored, a bedroom, a living room and even a sleeper sofa in the spare room that the dogs loved. Pictures were hanging on the wall, and once again knick-knacks had found their way back into our lives.
It was Christmas time, and even though we both worked, there was still no money for extras like a Christmas tree or Holiday decorations. I wasn’t a happy camper. We always had a Christmas tree, it is a treasured memory of my childhood, and I was not willing to give up. I tried to find a solution, even mentioned “stealing” a tree from a forest but none of my ideas were trusted.
Two weeks before Christmas I got desperate and put an ad in a local paper. I will work for a Christmas tree, it said, and I was sure nobody would call. I was wrong. A lady called, wanted to know my story and I shared with her the parts of our life that I was willing to share.
I got hired, and she picked me up the following Saturday. We had to put up Christmas trees in three offices, and I became her helper. The trees were gorgeous, and we decorated each one of them in a different theme. A Christmas tree for her boss, the hunter, and fisherman. A tree for everybody else in the office and last but not least a European Christmas tree in the hall -that wasn’t European at all, but I didn’t have the heart to tell her.
At the end of the day, she handed me an old, artificial Christmas tree that had seen better days. On our way home, she stopped at the local Wal-mart and bought me a gigantic box full of unbreakable ornaments in shiny Christmas colors.
Christmas Night I stayed up long and admired our tree. It was perfect. It’s funny how quickly life can change, and how we learn to adjust and make the best out of it.
Our tree lasted for two years and was retired when we moved again. Another Christmas rolled around in a new city and a new state, and while we were doing better, we still didn’t have too much money left for extras.
That year we drove from store to store, hoping to find a bargain that we could afford and finally, we stopped at a few resale stores, trying to find a reasonable, priced tree, but there were none. The ones left were too expensive, or too big. No luck this time! We left the store and were on our way to the car when another donation truck stopped right in front of us. My husband asked the driver if there were any Christmas trees on it, and the driver opened the back. There was one, and he sold him OUR Christmas tree right there in the parking lot for $7.
Many years later the tree is still in our possession, and we put it up every year. The tree has a GOOD, and a BAD site and a broken branch is held up, by the one that sits below. Stringing up the lights takes forever, and every year I tell myself to never do it again.
A few new and very special ornaments have found their way into our house, and hang proudly beside the plastic ones, I worked for so long ago.
This year I told the tree he would finally end up on the curb after Christmas, but something tells me it won’t happen. While we now have a beautifully decorated home, the tree reminds me at a time in our lives that was a challenge, but also very special.
Many of the memories I made back then I treasure to this day, as well as the lessons I learned.