When Bob and I were newlyweds almost 50 years ago, we were like most newlyweds of the time; practically broke! As Christmas approached, we had money enough for simple gifts for loved ones, but anything else---including a Christmas tree---was an extra that required some ingenuity to obtain.
One windy winter Sunday during Christmas week, we took an afternoon drive in the country---a cheap diversion, with gasoline only pennies per gallon. A cut evergreen tree blew across the highway in front of us. There were no houses around for miles; clearly that tree was meant for US!
We took it home to our living room. The tree was crooked---a minor defect that was more than made-up for by the sloping floor of our old honeymoon farmhouse. But in the dry warmth of our coal-heated home, what few needles still clung to the branches promptly fell off before we had a chance to decorate our tree.
My husband noted that the tree's bare branches, though sparse, were regularly balanced and spaced, and that inspired him; he dashed off to the store, returning with two very large packets of foil icicles,(cheap, at two for a quarter).
For the rest of that snowy afternoon, we painstakingly draped each branch with the icicles. We had no Christmas lights, but no matter; in the sunny window in which the tree sat, the foil sparkled brightly.
I fashioned a remnant of old lace into a tree-top angel; and with bobby pins, we attached ornaments made up of cookie cutters, stray baubles and bits of ribbon.
We found a little wine in the back of a cupboard and stretched it with ginger-ale into a sort of make-believe champagne, which we poured into the only two cut-glass goblets we owned. Then we stepped back to toast our shimmering tree.
At that moment, our big dog bounded into the room, chasing the resident field mouse that seemed to be generic to all country homes in those days. The tree was knocked over and well-trampled; it was also tangled up with a panicky dog.
We righted things quickly, but foil icicles, unlike today's plastic, did not forgive such maltreatment. For the rest of that holiday season, our tree resembled a disheveled bird's nest of crumpled foil.
It didn't really spoil a thing for us. We, the same old husband and wife, are still happily celebrating our Merry Christmases together.
Merry Christmas to all of you from R.A.T. (Rose About Town), who receives your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org