Twenty years ago on December 8th Stan and I drove out to the country and cut down our first Christmas tree on a roadside tree farm. I remember a sweet peace and happiness that day preparing for our first Christmas as a married couple. We lived in a rented house in the country that we split with Gary and Marilyn, our landlords, surrounded by trees, horses, pot-bellied pigs and a dog named Hope.
We pulled the tree in the large sliding glass door in our basement living room, turned on some music and began decorating. About halfway through, I suggested we call his dad and share our first Christmas tree with him over the phone to Indiana. At 52, he was dying of pancreatic cancer. We spoke to him, told him Merry Christmas and that we loved him, but he couldn't respond. Stan's mom got on to chat for a bit and we hung up. A few minutes later the phone rang. She called to tell us Russ had died while she was speaking to us. Stan went upstairs and changed the screen in the front door to glass. We looked into flights. The next thing we knew we were lugging our bags into his mother's kitchen that was brimming with loud laughter, lots of stories, people trying to chase their sorrows away.
December 8th is our Christmas tree day ever since that year. Instead of making it a day of mourning we have frolicked about tree farms, dug out our decor, put up lights and remembered Russ and that day in 1990 in a happy way. The holidays can be rough days for people and we've had some painful holidays too. Today I carry all the Christmas boxes into the living room and get things ready for the family to put up our tree and decorate like we do every year...only this December 8th my Bub isn't here. I hope he comes back before Christmas. I hope he comes back healthy and determined. That's all I want for Christmas. That's all I want.