December 19, 2007 -- Sandollar Resort in Rockport, TX
The holidays just wouldn't be complete without Christmas lights and Holiday Decorations -- at least for Dar. For most of the years of our marriage, she was always the one who spent time, money, and personal effort (not to mention risking life and limb) to achieve the warm holiday look she wanted the house to have, both inside and out. She took great pleasure in doing most of it herself. It started years ago when she said something about putting up lights on the outside of our house, two stories up, and wondered if I'd do it. Perhaps I was in a bad mood that day... I certainly was not in the holiday spirit... or just preoccupied with another project -- I don't know. But I said something along the lines of "If you want lights on the roof, put 'em up yourself." To make a long story short, she did. And she did for many years thereafter. And she made sure ALL the neighbors saw her. She took great pride in making sure everyone knew she did the outside lighting at the Hoch's house. For many years, I paid the price. I was shunned at Christmas parties, often chewed out by people I didn't even know about sending my wife to the top of a 30' ladder and onto an icy roof in the dead of winter. It was ugly, but I endured. You see, Dar's a perfectionist, and if I were out on that roof stapling lights to the shingles, anything I did wouldn't have been right anyway. It would have caused a lot of turmoil and pain in our marriage... not a good thing, especially during the holidays. In some ways, I feel I've actually saved our marriage by refusing to be part of the Christmas outdoor decorating thing, and letting her do it exactly the way she wanted it.
Eventually, the neighborhood guys started inviting me back to card games and such... and were actually jealous of what I'd achieved. Somehow, I'd gotten my dear wife to do all the outside decorating work. I'm sitting around the fireplace reading a book, having some warm holiday nog, listening to music while they're out there slipping, sliding, falling, and freezing their fingers trying to figure out which dead bulb is responsible for the death of the entire tangled string of lights. They wanted to know how I did it. Inside, I wished I knew how I did it too.
But let's fast-forward to this year. This was going to be a tough year for both of us -- since we'd have NO family around us at all for the first time in many years. I truly wanted to help out, in my owned limited way, with making it a good holiday season for us. So I looked for small ways to assist the "pro" during these holiday preparations. There turned out to be two small things that made me look pretty good in the eyes of my sweetie.
First, on a shopping excursion to Corpus Christi, she sent me to Home Depot while she shopped at other stores -- so I wouldn't interfere with her mission. While in Home Depot I spotted a small -- very small -- 24 inch high -- artificial Christmas tree. It was the last one they had. I knew that she had dreams of us walking out into the woods behind the bus to chop down a small seedling to use as our tree. But, alas, pine trees are not easy to find around here, and we're not exactly out in the sticks. Any pine tree we did find would have to come from someone's yard -- and that just wasn't going to happen. Until that day, it looked like we might not have a tree at all. But when I spotted this little Chinese-made fake tree I knew it was the right tree for us. Not only was it the right sized tree for us, it was fully decorated with lights, pine cones, and little fake berries of some kind. AND... it was 50% off the original price... just $4.99. AND I probably saved that little thing from the dumpster.
Dar fell in love immediately... with the tree. She called it our "Charlie Brown" Christmas Tree. It was bent and twisted from weeks of abuse at the hands of shoppers at the depot, but with Dar's magic touch, and a few additional decorations, it turned into a marvelous little tree. We'll make sure we get a photo of it online soon.
The second thing that kind-of shocked Dar was this: I found three boxes of Christmas lights that we'd brought along when we started this adventure back in June. Often people use strings of lights to brighten up dark campsites at any time of the year. Somehow I got the idea to put these lights up in the big live oak tree we're parked under. It wouldn't be a tough job as all I'd have to do is walk around the roof of the camper and string them from branch to branch -- forming a sort of colorful halo of Christmas lights over the bus. I did just that and it looks darned good if I can say so myself. Dar was shocked that, at least this year, she didn't have to do any outdoor decorating for Christmas.
But the real decorating is on the inside of the camper. Dar's a magician when it comes to this decorating thing. At night, the bus really feels like the holidays on the inside and looks pretty darned good on the outside too. I think it'll be a good Christmas for us.
Merry Christmas Everyone