Everyone has that story of one of life’s most embarrassing moments. You know what I mean: You do something that didn’t seem stupid at the moment, but after some time you realize there’s nothing to do but laugh at yourself. I dedicate this one to Martin James Gordon.
I moved from Pittsburgh to Houston in 1980 and met Marty in the spring of 1981. We immediately fell in love and after a brief three months we moved in together. Everything was wonderful. We celebrated the holidays with great fanfare: Halloween in costume, Valentine’s Day with a candlelight dinner, Christmas with a tree and presents. It was wonderful.
In 1983 we moved from our one-bedroom apartment to a seven-room house. The move was a bit much. We had to adjust to the new bills and the other responsibilities of a house—in other words, we had to get used to being broke from time to time. And then Christmastime came.
I was so use to having a tree that I just couldn’t wait to go shopping for one. And then Marty broke the news to me: We couldn’t afford a tree that year. We would have to do without. I was crushed. Christmas without a tree just wasn’t Christmas. What was the use of celebrating the holiday?
Then I got an idea. I had a talk with the guy who lived next door and convinced him to take me out to the woods so I could cut down a tree (being the outdoorsman that I am!). I really didn’t know what I was doing but I knew I wanted a tree. I chose one that really reminded me of the tree on A Charlie Brown Christmas. But I cut it down and took it home.
When Marty arrive home from work, he was greeted with a trail of pine needles starting from the back door, through the kitchen and into the dining-room. There, in the corner, stood this scrawny tree, decorated with blue bulbs and white lights. He took one look, kissed me gently on the lips, and told me to get in the car. He drove me a tree lot and purchased a six-foot tree.

We decorated the tree that night and sat back and looked at it until I got sleepy. We didn’t buy many presents that year. But we had the spirit of Christmas in that house that year. We had two more Christmases together, but that was the one I remember the most.
Marty passed away in 1988, but I’ll always be grateful for that wonderful Christmas in 1983 when just a simple gesture showed me how much I was willing to go through to keep a Christmas tradition alive. MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE.

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