Yesterday, we got our Christmas tree. We drove a few miles and found a nice tree lot, not too kitschy, but not exactly in the middle of the forest either. I had to keep telling myself, "At least we didn't go to Home Depot." Although, that would have saved us about $30.
On the way back, with Asher shouting from the back seat, "Whatchu guys talking about?" Ed and I reminisced about our first married Christmas together.
We were living in Portland. Three months later Ed would be taking a plane across country for a copy desk try-out at the New York Times, but we had no inkling of our East coast fate. We did, however, know that Ed's contract at the Oregonian might not be renewed in a few months and I was in my last year of business school with few job prospects (this was back during the LAST recession). We were living a grad student lifestyle in a 6000 square foot home (the home that my mom and sisters had moved out of following my father's death). It was a strange set of circumstances to say the least. Behind our house was a tree-filled ravine with a creek at the bottom. Our great idea was to just chop down a tree behind the house to use as our Christmas tree. It was both quaint and economical.
Two hours later and bathed in mud, we had no tree. I think at one point I even fell into the creek. I guess there is a reason they grow Christmas trees on farms. Everything was too bushy or flimsy or way too tall. We drove to a tree farm instead and Ed cut down his first Christmas tree ever.
My other favorite memory of our Christmas that year was the story of my Christmas sweater. Besides my full class load, I worked almost full-time at the corporate offices of Hollywood Entertainment in hopes of getting a formal offer at the end of the school year. On Fridays, I didn't have class and worked a full day there. Early one Friday morning, just before Christmas, I was running late and trying to find something warm and professional to wear. I remembered that my sister had left some clothes at the house and so I went to look through her old closet. Inside I found a great Abercrombie & Fitch sweater. Definitely something office worthy and cozy. It looked like her style, so I didn't think twice about it....and knew she would never know the difference that I had worn it once.
Later that night, I returned home to Ed. I think he was preparing to go out and cover a game. When he saw me in that sweater, he just stopped and stared....trying to say something but unable. Finally, he got the words out. That was his Christmas gift to me. He had "hid" it in my sister's closet. Why he left it hanging in there with the tags off is still a big mystery. He obviously didn't understand that all rules of honesty and good manners are off when it comes to borrowing your sister's clothes!
I treasure that first Christmas. We were newly married, perfectly broke and unbelievably happy. It turned out to be our only Christmas together without children or the soon arrival of children. Our next Christmas was spent at an upper East Side Manhattan hospital, trying to fight off preterm labor. Noe would arrive just three days later. We have made it home only one Christmas since. We have definitely had our share of wonderful Christmas memories in the past few years, but that first Christmas will always hold a special place in my heart.