When I was a little girl I remember being horrified when I heard my grandma Hilda was not putting up a regular Christmas tree one year. Everyone, I believed, needed a festively decorated tree up for Christmas. Grandma explained it was simply too much work. I wanted to put up a tree for her.
This year it will be the third year we haven’t had a regular Christmas tree in our home—just the one in the photo, which really doesn’t count. It sits in the corner on a table, while my extensive ornament collection remains boxed in my closet. The reason for no tree this year—the puppies and the fact, it will just be hubby and Mom for Christmas.
They aren’t exactly puppies anymore—last year Danny was not quite six months at Christmas, and Lily was about four months old. But hubby thinks they are probably too rambunctious for a tree, especially for Lily with her resource guarding issue we’re trying to deal with. I cringe to think what she would do if she snagged an ornament hook.
This morning I was drinking my coffee and thinking of our past Christmas trees. That first year out of three we didn’t have a tree was back in 2008—the year Lady came into our home. She wasn’t even as old as Lily on that first Christmas. It was also the first year that at least one of our kids didn’t come home for Christmas. Both our son and daughter married in 2008.
The second time without a tree was last year, and this will be the third year. As I sipped my coffee this morning and thought of those treeless years, my mind wandered back to Don’s and my first Christmas as a married couple, living in our first apartment, and our first dog, Pepper, who we rescued. Literally rescued—she was a pup wandering confused and hungry on the street and no one claimed her. She was with us 18 years.
That first Christmas together, Don and I never considered not having a tree, despite the fact we left Pepper alone in our apartment for hours while we went to work. What were we thinking? But, we were young.
As it turned out, Pepper never seemed to bother a single ornament—or the tree—or so, we thought.
In our early years together, our Christmas trees would include a strand with popcorn and fresh cranberries. The string would be a short row of popcorn, one cranberry, more popcorn, one cranberry, and so on.
One evening, while sipping eggnog or some other Christmas beverage, I was sitting on the sofa in our small apartment admiring our lovely tree. Back in those days, we didn’t have artificial trees—they were real pine trees. I looked admiringly at the tree when something peculiar caught my attention.
That long strand of popcorn and cranberry, wrapped festively around our little tree was sorely missing one thing—popcorn. It was simply: several inches of string, a cranberry, several inches of string, a cranberry, and so on.
Our little Pepper had meticulously nibbled off every bit of popcorn from the string—without pulling down the tree or even the string from the branches.
Such a clever dog. That is her in the photo.