Like many of you, hubs and I have some sappy stories from our days in the beginning our life together. Every year when we break out the Christmas decorations, one story in particular takes us back to the days when we were “living on loans and love”. Grad school had started for him, I was finishing up my education degree, and we were freshly married. Our parents were extremely generous and supportive, providing us with enough money to pay our rent and put groceries on our table…but the rest of it was up to us. Life was good. We were oblivious to the realities of being grown-ups, because our reality was the little cocoon that we had created in the tiny apartment we called home. Our days consisted of going to class, coming home and cooking dinner together, and spending the evenings studying or watching TV or taking walks together in the neighborhood. It was a time of sweetness and uncomplicated purity.
After only a few months of marriage, it came time for the holidays. I was so excited about having our first Christmas together as a married couple, and looked forward to everything about the season. I remember asking him about a Christmas tree and he reminded me that we would need to look for an artificial tree due to his allergies. So my mom and I set out on Black Friday, early in the morning, and found a tree on sale…I think I paid $20 for it. I assure you, there was nothing glamorous about it, but I brought it home like a hunter with a 10 point deer. Hubs insisted that we put it up immediately and after the ten minutes it took to assemble it…we stopped and looked at one another as the obvious question crossed both of our minds. What in the world were we going to put on the tree? (Refer to the above mentioning of just how green at this thing called “life” we really were) That was the moment when I popped off about how I would just run to Hobby Lobby the next day and pick up some decorations. Hubs looked at me and sweetly said, “Honey, we really don’t have the money for that.” Gasp. I remember looking at him…puzzled…and thinking, “is he serious? We can’t have a naked Christmas tree…” (This would be a good time to explain that hubs and I grew up with different backgrounds, but that’s a whole other blog post for a whole other time…but you get the picture) I don’t remember the rest of the evening or how that conversation all played out that night but I do know that I didn’t run to HL the next day, or the next. Our little tree sat in our living room…naked…for 3 days. And then the magic happened.
Cody came home from class with a plastic sack filled to its brim with pinecones. He had a friend at school that had offered him as many as he could find out of his yard that day. Seemed sweet enough…but I was slightly taken aback when he whipped out another sack…this one from Wal-Mart…and began removing ribbon, paperclips and spray paint. He proceeded to explain that he had come up with an idea of how to decorate our Christmas tree. He presented the idea, I was skeptical to say the least, but was weary of looking at the bare branches, so I agreed to help.
That evening, we spray painted every one of those pinecones with gold paint and let them dry. After they dried, we carefully pulled apart dozens of paperclips to make hooks. And finally, we hot glued the paperclips to the pinecones, and completed the look with a tiny bow. We laughed and told stories of Christmas’ growing up while we worked on the project. I quietly remained skeptical, honestly, but enjoyed the process of my new husband’s handiwork.
When they were all completed, we began to place them on our little tree…and one by one, they adorned that tree until it was covered in handmade ornaments. I was amazed at how precious they turned out, how amazing our tree looked, and in total awe at the man that made my dreams come true of having a beautiful tree for our first Christmas together. Those ornaments were nothing special to an outsider, but to us, they represented so much.
Needless to say, over the years, our lives have grown and our Christmas decorations have grown with it. Cody works incredibly hard to provide our family with a beautiful home that we enjoy decorating year after year for the holidays. But every year, when it comes time to decorate our tree, one thing always remains… our pinecone ornaments. We have kept them for 12 years and will continue to do so as long as possible. They have hung on every Christmas tree, and every year, our geese have to listen to the story of when “we became an us”. We remind our babies of our meager beginning, and it is a precious reminder to us as well. Those silly pinecones remind us of simpler times…of resourcefulness…of the extravagant happiness we felt that first year, and yet by the world’s standards, we had very little. While I don’t necessarily long for those days (because after all, those were pre-baby days) I sometimes long for that ME. I long for the girl that hadn’t tasted tears of grief and loss. I long for the girl that didn’t know what it was like to stress about the unknown. I long for the girl that was satisfied with making something beautiful out of simply “making do with what we have”. I long for uncomplicated purity.
While the reality stands that that “season” of life has passed, I pray that our little pinecones may be a reminder to all of us to embrace the season we are in…regardless. A season of joy. A season of chaos. Most of all, a season to celebrate the One that gives us life abundantly that came to the earth in the rawest form of uncomplicated purity. I am incredibly grateful that some things never change.