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It was the first week of December. I was beginning to get “antsy” about putting up my Christmas tree. When Glenn was alive we usually put the tree up early because we both loved the Christmas season. He died two years ago, but I have still decorated as usual.

I had just finished breakfast when the doorbell rang. I opened the door to a man and a woman, strangers to me, with big smiles on their faces —carrying a big long box.

“Mrs. Stanley, your son Mark said you needed a new Christmas tree, and here we are ready to set this one up for you! And we’re ready to decorate it for you, too!”

I was shocked. Why hadn’t Mark called me?

I backed away. “Who are you? Why didn’t Mark call me? My tree is fine. It’s missing some lights and branches, but I like it.”

Before I could close the door they were already in the living room, taking the tree out and putting it together.

“We’ll do your tree and decorate it, too, and Mark said you have a crèche and lots of other things to put out. We’re here to do whatever you wish.”

“But, but —” I stammered. By then the tree was assembled and standing in front of the window, and they were busy stringing the lights.

“You’re not welcome! I don’t want you to touch my ornaments. Or anything. You may go home, and I’m going to call my son.”

“But Mrs. Stanley. We’re from Cactus Flowers. Mark has already paid us.”

I looked at the bare tree. Actually it was perfect. “OK; I’ll take the tree. But I don’t want you to touch my ornaments. I want to hold each one and remember where it came from.”

“OK, Ma’am. We’ll hurry and get out of your way.”

I smiled to myself. I had won. I couldn’t wait to start decorating.

First came the ropes of wooden candy — I had trouble swooping them. Next came the angel. Oh dear, I should have had them put it up before they left. I’ll have to wait until Mark can come and put it up.

It took three long days to finish decorating the tree. Next came the skirt around the bottom. Then the marching wooden Nutcrackers. Then propping Raggedy Ann and Andy; they kept falling over.

The last touch was adding the candy canes, red bows and the pictures of our fifteen grandchildren. It took me a week to get everything just right! But it finally was ready for a beautiful Christmas, 2015.

Mark came by last week to put up the tree for me. I asked him, “Do you remember how rude I was last year to those people you sent to decorate my tree?”

“Do I remember? Are you kidding? The same people came by the other day to ask if they should call you this year. I said, ‘No; she’ll eat you alive!’”

P.S. Next year I’m hoping I can sweet talk Mark into hiring them again. They were so helpful. This year it has taken me days and days to decorate. But I won’t give up the joy of doing it — WHETHER OR NOT! 

This article originally appeared in Roadrunner Extra!, the resident newsletter of Beatitudes Campus.

Diana Stanley

Diana Stanley, a native of Arizona, has always enjoyed writing and has kept a journal for many years.

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