The tree is up; we're ready for Santa

My parents came over this evening to help us decorate our Christmas tree. There is a classic tale in our family from when I first got a kitten around age 7 or so. My neighborhood friend wanted a kitten so badly but her landlord wouldn't allow pets, so she told me "he can be our kitten and we'll just keep him at your house." We reference this a lot in our vernacular, so of course this Christmas tree is ours between my parents and us and we're just keeping it at our place. It never feels like Christmas until the tree is all done up. When I was a little kid I thought the tree was a requirement for Santa to show up, as if he scanned the neighborhood for houses with evergreens in the living room and if we didn't have one he might pass us by. I remember several anxious Christmas Eve's as we worked to get the tree up so that Santa could come.

When my brother was around 9 and I was around 3, my mother kept putting off getting the tree until Daddy could get back in town (I think he was in Carolina a lot at the time because one of his parents was sick, but I would have to confirm that). My brother kept hounding Mom to get a tree that she finally relented that we could look at trees but not get one until Daddy was back home. Of course, Perry found a tree that he fell in love with and insisted we get. This was one of the pricier lots at the time and my mother wasn't interested in paying that much. When she told him we couldn't get that tree, he started to cry.

When you're 3 and your older brother starts to cry, the sibling bond forces you to tears as well and soon my mother was faced with two kids weeping inconsolably in a tree lot. The lot attendant came over to ask what was the matter and my mother explained that Perry wanted to get a tree but we weren't in the market for trees that were so expensive. The lot attendant asked how much Mom was interested in spending and she said she didn't really want to pay more than $10 (this was around 1980). The man knelt down to my brother and told him "you go pick yourself out whatever tree you want, young man, and it's yours for $10."

My mother was shocked, but we went home with a beautiful tree that day. Several of my mother's friends later asked to borrow us to go tree shopping as well.