I was in 4th grade. Christmas was approaching and Mom had declared that we weren't going to have a tree. I don't know why. She's always been kind of a no-nonsense mother. Looking back, I imagine that she was just plain tired. (Mom was a nurse. She worked full time because she had to. Dad didn't earn enough to pay all the bills.)
On Christmas Eve, while the folks were at work, my brother and I got out the Christmas lights and began stringing them down the lamp pole.
We put the gifts we'd made at school at the base of the lamp and plugged in the lights. It wasn't as good as a real tree, but we were rather proud of it. We couldn't wait to show Mom!
When she saw our "tree", it must have touched her heart, for she decided that we'd go right down to Halsey's tree lot and get a real Christmas tree.
I couldn't wait to choose the perfect tree.
It didn't occur to my young self that at 4:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, there might not be much of a selection. We pulled up to find an empty lot. Empty. No rows of perfect trees. No trees at all. I'm sure we looked pitiful, because Mr. Halsey pulled a half tree off his scrap pile. Not half as in "short". Half as in "branches on one side only..."
We hauled the pitiful tree home and put it up in the corner. By the time it was lit and decorated, why, you couldn't even tell that it was barely half a tree. It was marvelous.
I have no idea what presents I unwrapped that night, but I'll never forget the most beautiful tree ever.
***(Sadly, I don't have any photos from that Christmas...please excuse me and the Penultimate app for a feeble attempt at illustrating this post.)