My husband used to get so amused and would affect a slightly superior demeanor as my sister and I perused the Black Friday ads after enjoying a sumptuous Thanksgiving feast. We’d make clandestine plans to meet at 5AM to staunchly assault the bastions of retail harbingers so we could claim those coveted spoils of victory. It was a game we loved to play. We would shop early and then indulge in mugs of hot chocolate and people watch the other shoppers, smug in the knowledge that we had accomplished our goals. We were usually on the hunt for just a couple of items, but we enjoyed the shared sister play date.
Years ago, there was a pre-lit Christmas tree listed for $11.99 on sale at Walmart. My sister needed a tree, so I played wheelchair roller derby against reckless shopping cart drivers to triumphantly locate the sale display. The stack of boxed trees was dwindling fast. I managed to pull one box off the pallet and guarded it until she could arrive with a shopping cart. There wasn’t a sample tree set up on display, so we were purchasing her new tree sight unseen.
When she and my brother-in-law assembled the tree for the first time, she dubbed it a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. It stood just over 5 feet tall and although it seemed a little skimpy and the greenery barely covered those flimsy metal branches, the multi-colored lights gave it such a festive look. Once she added some treasured ornaments, and you squinted your eyes just slightly, it looked very acceptable. And she said they would probably only use it a year or two and then purchase a better one. Guess what? Years later, they are still using that same Charlie Brown tree. It has become a Christmas tradition for them and I imagine it serves to remind them of the joy they share even during thinner times. Some of the needles have been shed and only one strand of the pre-lit lights still work but they add additional strands and that little tree is a annual reflection of their love for each other.
Their tree reminds me of a few special relationships I’ve been privileged to observe. The outer packaging might be a bit worn and perhaps misshapen in places, but the sparkle radiates love and joy. When you are in the company of one of these special couples, you see a strong friendship confirming trust, admiration freely given, and humor being shared. They seem to embrace life. They are people you enjoy being around and you might also envy a little bit because, as in my case, I think that should still be us.