Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Christmas Tree (10/09/08)
TITLE: That Special Christmas Tree
By Mildred Sheldon
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My husband was in the army and we were stationed in Germany that Christmas. We were in Frankfurt living on the economy in a one-room apartment for nearly a year before my husband was reassigned to a new post in Heidelberg. We were finally assigned government quarters, which made us happy. We had never been inside those quarters until the day we moved in. My husband and I nearly fainted when we walked through the door. We were greeted with cockroaches on the walls, floor and ceiling. We had never had cockroaches and to see this made me sick right down to my shoes.
We had two small children and to bring those angels into an apartment that I considered unlivable was unbelievable. It was such a shock to me how anyone could live like that. My husband immediately went to the PX and bought several cans of cockroach spray. I sprayed the beds where we were to sleep and commenced scrubbing the walls, cabinets, drawers, floors and every nook and granny in the kitchen. It was ten o’clock at night when I finished the kitchen and fell into bed exhausted. The next day I continued scrubbing, cleaning walls and waxing those beautiful hardwood floors until everything in that little apartment shined. We had the exterminator come in and spray for roaches. He ended up doing the whole building, which housed twelve military families.
I did not give any thought about our neighbors below us. Her husband had complained about the noise and she knocked on my door very early the next morning. I invited her in and when she saw all those cockroaches she told her husband about my apartment and from then on, we had no more complaints.
Finally, the apartment met my standards of cleanliness except for the furniture. It seemed the previous tenets had a dog and it had urinated on the carpets as well as the furniture. We rolled up the carpets, shampooed the furniture and waited for the Inspector General to approve our request for new furniture, which was delivered before our first Christmas in our new home.
December came and my husband received only a partial pay due to his transfer. We had a total of seventy-two dollars for that whole month and we struggled to make ends meet. We could not afford to buy a Christmas tree for our little families first Christmas. Our neighbor Darrel and his wife decided that we were going to have a tree even if he had to go out and cut it himself. Back then, if the German authorities caught you cut down a tree you had to pay a big fine.
Well, Darrel came to our apartment with that little tree grinning from ear to ear. They had an extra stand and some Christmas decorations, which they gave us. That poor little three-foot tree was so sparse and looked so pitiful.
We strung lots of popcorn and with the few Christmas balls we had did our very best to make that little tree beautiful. It was still a little sparse but the shiny balls and little bit of tinsel transformed that tree into a work of art. We were as happy as we could be. Isn’t it strange how a little tree can create a feeling of well being and you just had to thank God. My heart burst with such happiness and joy and I had to give God the glory.
I went down to the German market and found two little cars for fifty cents. They were our sons Christmas presents. When they were pushed backwards, it wound up a tiny spring and they flew across the floor with tremendous speed. I found a little sleeper for our daughter for twenty-five cents. She was too small to realize how special that Christmas was.
On Christmas morning, that special little tree greeted our two-year-old son. The look on his face was cherubic. Beneath that wonderful little tree were gifts wrapped in bright sparkly Christmas paper.
That tiny tree stayed up until the needles started to fall and I had to take down that very special Christmas tree.
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