It was a cold, dreary November day. The sun hadn’t shone for what seemed like weeks, and a torpor had set in and permeated the entire household. Spirits were down. Christmas was coming, and we were suddenly faced with a cold, hard truth.
“…We’re sorry. You’ve been a terrific asset to this company, but…”
“…It’s nothing personal, it’s a business decision…”
“…Look buddy, I know you have a new house and two young kids. I hate doing this to you…”
Yeah. Merry Christmas to YOU, buddy. I’ll be fine. Don’t you dare patronize me.
November. Not quite a month till Christmas.
We pondered what to do. It was the holidays. No one would seriously be looking to hire between now and New Years.
“…Go sign up for unemployment.”
“…Yes you can. That’s what it’s there for. You’ve paid into it all your life. You are entitled to it.”
“…What are we going to do about Christmas?”
We put up the little artificial tree we bought the first year we got married, when we only had a tiny apartment and there wasn’t room for anything bigger. The kids were young; they wouldn’t notice. Besides, the baby was all over the place. She’d just have pulled it down.
And the cost of a Christmas tree could pay a bill.
He came to us, that Saturday morning the second week in December. Looking up at us with those beautiful, innocent, piercing blue eyes.
We exchanged glances.
“You want a tree, sweetie?”
“Kissmas twee, kissmas twee!”
More exchanged looks.
“Do you think we’ll even find one this late?”
They headed out, father and son, on that cold, rainy December day. Lot after lot, Home Depot after Home Depot, they drove.
“Nope. Sorry. We’re outta trees.”
And each time, his little blond head would hang a little lower.
Many hours later, I heard the familiar sound of the truck pulling in. A very excited three-year-old came bounding out of the passenger seat. His cheeks were red and cold, but his eyes were blue and bright.
“Well, that’s an awfully beautiful tree. I didn’t expect anything like that. What is it?”
“It’s a Blue Spruce. They’re pretty popular up north, I think.”
“Well, it’s beautiful.”
“Everyone was out of them. This was the last lot. They were pretty well picked through, this being the second week in December. But we found this one. Our little man stood guard by it while I found someone to come over and help us. He wouldn’t leave it. He stood there with his little hand on the trunk the whole time.”
“Aw, you’re mama’s big boy, aren’t you? Umm, was it really expensive?”
“Was it? Wait. Are you crying?”
“The guy came over and told me the price on it. I told him we were looking for something a little less expensive and tried to move away and find something else, but he wouldn’t let go. He just stood there, in the rain, with his little hand on the trunk of that tree.”
“The guy looked at him holding onto the tree and told me he’d take less for it.”
And there he stood. Cold and wet. A father who didn’t know what would come of us in the next few weeks or months. But a father who had done what his little boy asked of him.
What more could you ask for on Christmas?