As newlyweds, my husband and I moved to west Texas. I was 23 and far from home. The Saturday before Thanksgiving, my father died suddenly in the front yard of our Nashville home where I grew up. He had been raking leaves and listening to the Vanderbilt football game. I hope Vandy was winning.
After the whirlwind funeral trip, we came back to our tiny apartment. We bought a Christmas tree the next day. Putting out my first tree with all my childhood ornaments was cathartic, but, as trees do, it dropped all its needles the week before Christmas and I couldn’t stand to look at it in its dry, dead state. My patient, loving husband threw it out and boxed up the ornaments.
Christmas was on a Thursday that year. This was back in the day when we never missed Prayer Meeting on Wednesday nights and when a Christmas tree equated a happy holiday. We were going home from church to an empty living room and everyone else’s lights were twinkling in their window. Just then, we passed the back of a grocery store where the unsold trees were laying by the dumpster. We took one and decorated it until late into the night.
That act of resilience was a muscle I’d have to use on more than that one holiday. Exercising it served me well. Mind you, I learned resilience from my father.