05 December 2010

A History Through Christmas Trees

On this day in history, in 2004, Dave and I had been married for one day.  I was coming down with strep, and we were surrounded by our wedding presents from the day before.  Today, six years later, I am recovering from bronchitis and we are surrounded by laundry.  But on both days we were/are sitting by our Christmas tree:
Our original tree had been purchased the morning of our marriage by Dave and his best man, Dan (his cousin).  It was a pre-lit, multi-light tree that stood 6' tall.  After our wedding reception we began to head to our awkwardly shaped, third floor apartment located in Heritage Hill of Grand Rapids.  But as we approached the interstate I realized we had left the quintessential Christmas tree decorating cd back at the Baert Baron Mansion (where we had been wed).  We made a quick turn-around and after safely securing Merry Christmas (recently retitled White Christmas) with Bing Crosby, we headed home (my new home), and decorated our first Christmas tree.

Our current Christmas tree stands 7.5' tall.  It is not pre-lit, and I wrestled with the three strands of lights I put on it for quite a while yesterday afternoon-- after Dave had to make an emergency trip to buy more lights.  I tripped over cats and baby toys and had to keep reminding the two-year-old that Christmas trees are for looking at and not touching.  But later in the evening, after both children were finally in bed, we popped in old Bing and decorated our tree together.  Earlier in the evening we watched the video of our wedding ceremony during which I realized three things:  1. Our pastor was long-winded in prayer.  2. I was gorgeous back then.  And 3. My love for Dave was overflowing, just as it is now.

We had another Christmas tree in between that first one and our current:
This is the tree that saw us through our last apartment.  It is about 3.5' tall, takes only one strand of lights, and was perfect for our little living room with its multitude of bookshelves.  This tree was used during our last Christmases as a family of only two.  Those were special days together and comprise probably the most relaxing period of our relationship to date.  We were very comfortable living with one another in tight quarters, we were both in good places vocationally, and we had easy access to a great coffee shop downtown.  We had three cats, three birds and three fish, but were contemplating adding a human to the mix.  It was here that our journey toward parenthood began.
I am not sure when this little tree came into our home, but I seem to remember it sitting on our dresser in our spacious, third floor, over looking downtown apartment.  While my love for Dave was abounding and our relationship strong, I most closely associate stress (and then subsequent freedom) with this time in our relationship.  I was working a job that was slowly killing me, and I came home from one of the worst working days ever on a Saturday in November.  I told Dave that I needed to quit.  This is one of the largest leaps of faith we have ever taken as a couple.  I was the primary breadwinner for our household.  Dave had been unemployed for much of the year and was currently working an hourly wage job with unreliable hours.  But we both agreed that I needed to be out of my current situation.  We went to the calendar and circled a date six months down the road and agreed that I would be done with my job by this time.  We began to down size everything and I was able to quit two months ahead of schedule.  While our finances were painfully small, we were both much happier (and healthier).

Perhaps this was a remarkable turning point for us.  It was here that we both knew our priorities would always include relationships at the top.  We knew that time truly beat out money and that happiness could be found by instilling love and energy into friends, family and most importantly, each other.

Guess what?  We are still painfully poor, but we are remarkably happy and love radiates from this house.  It is seen in the smiles of my children, the hugs between Dave and his girls, and the late evenings talking with my husband.  It is evident in the toys strewn about, the crayon marks on the cupboards, and a dinner table covered in crumbs.  Our animals are content and our door is always open to welcome anyone in.  I love this life, and I love my husband for deciding to head with me on this journey.


JV said...

That's lovely! A good bit of your story mirrors mine, in that, after my daughter was born, I quit working, even though I was making more than my husband was at the time. I liked my job, but I was constantly torn between work and home with my baby. Bless his heart, he said, "You can always get another job, but you can never get these years back once they're gone." I agree that there's so much that's more important than money.

JV said...

Oh, and your anniversary is near mine, too. Our 23rd anniversary is coming up on Friday (Dec. 10, 1987).

*m* said...

you are still beautiful.