When Tim and I first married, he was a quiet fellow. He was also the sort of fellow who did not like messes and clutter. At Christmas time, I discovered that he was a simple man, with simple tastes. Three foot tall trees with minimalist decorating, easy to get in the house and set up by himself, and didn't make a mess at the end of the season when it was being hauled back out.
Then we met. He put a second floor and an attic on his house. We needed it. I came in bringing three kids, loads of furniture. For the attic, I had boxes of Christmas ornaments. Christmas dishes. The big hand painted nativity. The pine cone wreath from the Black Forest. *groan* Probably eight or nine boxes of Christmas stuff.
You hammer out a lot of 'deals' in a marriage. Some are small. For instance, Tim cannot abide lipstick. He can't. It brings up some very bad memories. I don't wear it. Some were bigger. He invariably fell asleep during Episcopal masses, so we're now Methodists. But probably the biggest deal we had to hammer out was Christmas. He is a preacher's kid, and Christmas is about Jesus, and, to his way of thinking, getting all excited about the more secular aspects of it might even be a sin. Now I love Jesus, to be sure, but I also don't see anything wrong with celebrating his birthday by dragging in a huge tree, decorating it to the max, having cookies, and lots of lights right along with the nativity, and the children's Christmas pagent, and church doings. So we began hammering out a deal. "We can't have a 3 foot Christmas tree, Tim. I like tall trees," and "I like long needled trees, they just look softer," and "Christmas just ain't Christmas unless you're up at the crack of dawn opening presents by the soft glow of Christmas lights." After Thanksgiving, I dragged down the nativity. And the Christmas dishes. And then Christmas began to sneak out into all corners of the house. For a man who handled Christmas so that it would disrupt life as little as possible, my version of Christmas was...well...a disruption.
After 11 years of marriage, I knew that, more or less, he'd been won over to my way of doing things. One year, he picked the tree himself, and was very disappointed that when he got it home, it was much smaller than he'd thought it would be (it was growing on a bank...he was standing lower). He fretted about the size of it, and fetched in a box to stand it on, so that it wouldn't look quite so puny. I knew at that point that 'Bah, humbug Tim' was a ghost of Christmas past. This past weekend, when we were out and about, we bought some Christmas presents for the kids, stocking stuffers, really. He came up to me at an estate sale hissing, "Come quick...I found something for Cara." We carted our finds home, and later that night, Tim contentedly talked about Christmas, making plans, happy with our purchases. It made my heart smile.