by Pat Bean
The year was 1979. I was recently divorced, four of my five children had left the nest, and I had just moved to a new town where I and my youngest teenage daughter knew no one. After school let out for the holidays, my daughter went to visit friends 50 miles away for a few days.
After she left, I thoughtfully looked at our Christmas tree. It was large, and generously decorated with the ornaments I had collected over the years, including the bright red plastic poinsettia flowers that had been the only decorations I could afford for my first Christmas tree.
So why did it look so sad?
In years past, with my large family still intact, the floor beneath the tree had always been stacked high with wrapped presents, as everyone bought gifts for everyone. But all that was under the tree on this day were the two gifts I had bought my daughter, and the one she had bought for me.
This wouldn’t do, I decided. While money was tight, and I couldn’t afford big gifts, I did have enough for a lot of small items, whose presence beneath the tree would go a long way to cheer it up before my daughter returned home.
Unbeknownst to me, my daughter had come to the same conclusion about our tree. And when she returned, it was with a lot of small gifts that she had bought for me with the small amount of money she had with her.
Our tree no longer looked sad–and when I think of Christmases past, this is always the one I remember first.
Pat Bean is a retired journalist who spent nine years traveling in a small RV with her canine companion, Maggie. She now writes from Tucson, Arizona. She is passionate about books, writing, art, birds, nature, and at 77 still has a zest for life.