A friend and fellow blogger recently posted a story about her 1st Christmas with her husband and his two children. It was a touching story filled with roaches, and mac and cheese and hotdogs, clearly not combined, but each having an important place in her story. And while I make fun of it, it was a very touching and moving story. So hopefully she doesn’t shoot me.
When I read it, it immediately brought to mind how my wife and I shared our 1st Christmas together. As my friend’s story impacted me, maybe this will impact you and stir up some good memories.
It was Christmas 1977, my wife and I had been living together for several months, and we were poor, really poor. I was still in the Navy (E5), stationed in Norfolk VA, and my wife (while attending classes) had some type of part-time job, and together our incomes almost equaled zero.
We were living in a little 1 bedroom apartment, furnished with things from both of our prior marriages. She clearly brought the better stuff into our relationship. But it was all functional, and we called it home. We lived paycheck to paycheck, the last couple of days of each pay period the funds were always saved for fuel, so we could get back and forth to our jobs and her classes. My wife was great at budgeting and managing what little money we had. As Christmas approached we knew money would be tight, we agreed to forgo presents for the most part (1 each), and we knew we couldn’t afford a Christmas tree or a big Christmas dinner. Love was on our side, and it wasn’t difficult to make these decisions. A couple of days before Christmas, I got to stand an additional watch, so we had a few extra dollars, with those extra funds we splurged and bought a single string of Christmas lights. When we got them home we didn’t know where to place the lights. We looked around the living room for the best place and finally decided that the sofa table would look good dressed out. There were decorative pieces at each of the 4 corners of the sofa table that allowed us to string the lights thru table. This made for a giant splash of light in our living room. Steph made the sofa table look great with the lights, fake garland, and some hand me down Christmas decorations. We placed our gifts on that table for Christmas morning. We also hung our stockings from those decorative pieces on the table. It was quite festive all things considered.
As I said earlier, being as poor as we were, we didn’t have the money to spend for a fancy Christmas meal with all the trapping, and it being the end of the pay period, we had even less. At this point we were eating anything left in the cabinets. It could have ended up being a Mac and Cheese Christmas. Then the light bulb in my head flashed on, we could eat onboard the ship. On Christmas Eve I found out I could bring my wife onboard for Christmas dinner and all I would have to pay is the comrats rate for that meal. Which in this case, the Christmas meal would cost 62 cents, yes a whole big whooping 62 cents. The problem was that this particular Christmas was right at the end of a pay period, and we didn’t have 62 cents. I know that sounds ridicules but we were poor and it was almost 40 years ago. On Christmas morning, we opened our gifts, had breakfast, watched TV and tried to figure out where we would get the 62 cents. The fact is we were only a few cents short. We went on a scavenger hunt in the apartment, emptying drawers, searching thru pockets, looking under the couch, in the cushions, and on and on, and we finally managed to find enough to cover the cost of the meal. Throughout the search we joked and teased, almost having a giggle fest. Our first Christmas was one of the very best Christmas’s ever.
The meal was feast, fit for a king, but this isn’t about the food. Our 1st Christmas was outstanding. For years afterward we decorated that sofa table, it became part of our family tradition, how we prepared for Christmas. We were never that poor again, sure our first few years together were financially rough, but we could celebrate the Christmas meal in a more traditional way.
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE, keep the Spirit alive.
As always your comments and thoughts are welcome. Take care, Bill