In the fall of 2020, my late husband purchased the Christmas tree of his dreams at a Lowes in Kingsland, GA. After a challenging year Rich looked forward to the joy of the holiday season he’d always loved.
We purchased that tree on a very warm southern September day. We’d moved from New Jersey to Georgia ten months earlier to a home with the ceiling height that would finally accommodate his seven foot pre-lit dream tree.
We truly enjoyed our first Christmas season in the South. That tree twinkled five ways each evening, showcased in a large sunburst window. During the day, it shimmered in the southern sunlight, so different from the cold holiday times of which we were so accustomed to in the North.
On our first holiday season here, a small black and white dog named Teddy napped under that tree. Steady Teddy as we called him had come into our lives in January 2013 as a foster and had never left. He’d always been such a good calm dog and had never posed a threat to this tree, or any others we’d had.
That holiday ended peacefully, and the tree was boxed up and stored for the next one. Little did we know there would be no “next” for Rich.
By the time the next decorating season arrived, Rich had only been gone for a month. At that time, my mother was living with me. Determined to act as if life would just go on, and the desire to make my mom’s holiday pleasant, I made it my business to retrieve and set up Rich’s tree. Using a ladder and some heavy tarps, I carefully lowered the heavy boxed tree on to the ground along with several containers of holiday items. Then I dragged that big box in to my home and began the process of celebrating my first Christmas without Rich.
But there was also a new “distraction”. A happy one. Within two weeks, I flew out to San Diego to fetch a fluff ball of a puppy I named Quint. He is named after Robert Shaw’s character to honor Rich’s favorite movie, JAWS. I wrote about Quint’s arrival in to my world in last Saturday’s post.
As much as I love that seven foot tree, this year I’ve opted for a small four foot artificial Douglas Fir tree purchased at the same Lowes as its larger cousin. It’s currently placed high up on a vintage pedestal table given to me by my late sister, Manette.
I’d come to love that big tree as Rich had. But after hearing about a tragedy that had occurred with a puppy who’d died after chewing through Christmas light wires I knew I had to adapt in how I handled this holiday in more ways than one. Rich was a dog-lover and I knew he’d understand.
Quint is the “mouthiest” dog I’ve ever had. A JAWS sequel, with a dash of Stephen King’s CUJO could be written around him. Although sweet and charming, his scissor-sharp little teeth have a way of destroying anything lying in his path. Last year, his puppy curiosity brought him under that tree every free moment he got. This year, he has doubled his size and he still feels the need to chew on anything he can reach. His keen interest in wires has definitely influenced this year’s decorative choices. And I can live with that.
Two years ago with Rich and Teddy still here, all was right in the world. There were no clues about their imminent illnesses and passings. But in order to live a happy life and honor the lives of those no longer with us, we have to adapt, during ordinary times and especially during those times of the year that make us stop and reflect. Then we realize that all can still be well in the world when we do.