Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Live Vs Artificial

I think everyone knows by now that Mac was in the Navy for thirty years, which carried with it a lot of sea duty. Sea duty should have had the word "over" included, since the ship(s) mainly went far away...they didn't run out five or six miles and play war games then back in time for dinner. Even when they were in port, he often had "Duty" which meant he had to stay on the ship overnight at least once a week. He averaged six months at sea every year. Sometimes more. That's the thing so many people don't understand about Military families, it doesn't matter if there's a war going on or not, families are going to be separated. Well, the first Christmas that the ship was at sea at Christmastime, the boys were devastated. Not see Daddy at Christmas? You're kidding, right? Right? Well, sadly I was not kidding. No Daddy at Christmas, it was 1977 so no Internet...just snail mail that could sometimes take up to two weeks to arrive from port to home or home to port. We had always had a live tree and I was adamant that we would not have an artificial tree. Ever. My reasons were mainly that they didn't look real. I had other reasons, but that was the main one. So I've got the beautiful live cedar tree all decorated by December 15th, water in the basin of the tree holder, plop an aspirin in (don't ask me, Mama always did it, I figured she knew). Every few days, add water, add presents, feel needles...sing a carol. The ship was due in the end of December, so I figured the tree would still look pretty good by the time he got home. Christmas came and went, so did the new year, no ship, no Mac. January 12th and I add more water, more aspirin, no carol this time, but a prayer instead. "Dear God please don't let my tree die this week". As though it wasn't already as dead as the proverbial hammer. And dry. There's Mac's presents laid neatly beneath a quickly drying cedar tree and I'm imploring the boys "for heaven's sake, don't brush against the Christmas tree, the needles are getting dry." It's now February 1st, the ship has once more been delayed. The boys are standing in the living room with a couple of their friends and Craig (Wallace's friend) says "you've still got your Christmas tree up." That was all, just you've still got your Christmas tree up. Of course by this time it looked more like a Christmas stick. With lights. "We're waiting for the boys' daddy to get home" I explained. To a five year old. "Oh," was all he said. By this time of course, we no longer turned the lights on, I was afraid of fire. It was no longer even plugged in. When the word came down that the ship was now due on February 14th I was so relieved I was nearly sick. I had taken to sleeping on the sofa next to the tree to keep the cat out of it so that it might have a semblence of shape and a few needles when the big day finally arrived. Women go through an awful lot to make Christmas work for everyone. In my mind, it was still the Christmas season and no one could convince me otherwise. Wow, what a day February 14th was, what a wonderful Valentine's day it turned out to be as we drove to D&S piers (Norfolk. Va) to greet the ship and all I could think of was the pile of needles on the floor , the cat crouching in the middle of the tree, so by now I was certain what remained of the tree was now covering the packages that contained some lovely winter wear and here we were fast approaching spring...after arriving home, I quickly plugged in the tree for the brief time it would take to shove packages into Mac's hands. He opened them, oohed and ahh'ed and I jumped up, unplugged the lights and grabbed the tree and quickly dragged it out the front door and dumped it unceremoniously onto the front yard where it burst into flames before every one's amazed eyes. I swear I could smell the cedar firing up as we sat in the floor. I don't think I've ever moved quite so fast, in my life. As for my opinion of artificial trees, no longer a live cedar snob, I agree with all and sundry...don't they look natural


Donna said...

What a wonderful story!!
That took a whole lotta love it!!

Hilary said...

Donna expressed my sentiments exactly. What devotion. I'll bet you still celebrate Valentine's Day as the official end to the Christmas season. ;)

Maggie May said...

That's true love for you!
Can't hardly believe the way the tree just burst into flames like that.
Maggie x

Nuts in May

Sally said...

Oh wow, Sandi. I have to agree; that's some devotion you had there, but I do understand.

So many people, even in this day and time, don't realize what Military families go through. But, I feel as I know you do, those hours of waiting for letters or some kind of word could be long and arduous.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Akelamalu said...

What a great story and quick action on your part! LOL

Lee said...

Wonderful story Sandi! It was something live, but not a traditional tree, when I started decorating my first apartment. Artificial when I was married for convenience and the budget, the live ones were so expensive. Nowadays I use a mantle place and maybe a cup tree if I'm in the mood. You're the angel of all holidays Sandi!

Vee said...

Wow! Mac had quite the homecoming! We had friends whose father was away on a cross-country trucking trip and did not make it back until February. There's soemthing very sad about a live...errr..dead tree in February. (And that cross-country trucking thing sounds highly suspect to me now. Ha!)

So I have finally found me a moment to sip my coffee and read your post. I'd never wish to miss one!