A husband at UBC and a new baby son meant there wasn’t a lot of money for decorations in 1966, our first Christmas together. We lived in a small apartment on Sixth Avenue in the Kitsilano neighbourhood of Vancouver.
It was barely big enough for the three of us, much less a Christmas tree.
With no tree in our tiny apartment my mood soon reflected the dark December days.
I tried my best to make the tree-less living room festive but I had to admit — to myself anyway — that it just wasn’t the same without a Christmas tree. I just wasn’t feeling the Christmas spirit.
Then late one rainy afternoon my husband arrived home from his university class with a Christmas gift for me — a small evergreen tree. Since it was barely five feet high he’d got it for a dollar at a tree lot by his Broadway bus stop and thought he’d surprise me. But now what would we do for decorations?
Bundling the baby into his stroller we headed down to Fourth Avenue.
Passing the hippie shops selling tie-dyed shirts and Seeds of Time posters, we stopped in front of Thompson’s Five and Dime Variety Store. Wandering the narrow aisles we picked up a few strings of lights, some shiny glass balls, and the wonderful tinsel of the day — shiny, thin, foil strips that draped beautifully and didn’t cling to your clothes every time you walked by the tree.
Looking around for a tree top ornament took a while as we debated the merits of the foil star or the gaudy angel.
We finally decided on a glass bauble resembling a stylized star.
At 49 cents it was clearly a bargain and although it was very thin glass we were hoping it would at least last the season.
Well that glass star has lasted more than 50 years.
It survived toddlers, teenagers, and the year my husband’s back seized up and he fell headlong into the tree. The children joked about that ornament every year.
They and their dad agreed that it would be best if mom put the star on the top because she could only blame herself if it broke.
While we had hoped it might last a year, that tree topper has survived a long, long time.
This year we celebrate our 54th Christmas together and my husband has, in that time, given me many lovely gifts.
But none have been as memorable as that first little tree and the star that still shines from its place at the top.
Sheila Wyse was selected as the winner of the Spirit of Christmas writing contest 19 and older category.