07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Friday, January 6, 2012

Christmas and Valentine's Day and Gifts of the Heart

It was December 1962, my first Christmas as a wife. My husband worked two jobs to support us while I finished my senior year at the University of Oregon. I had $25.00 a week to feed both of us three meals a day.
My husband's two best friends were drafted into the Christmas tree hunt on that first Saturday. We hiked through snowy fields to find the perfect tree. While my husband might have had an idea of what my idea of the perfect tree was, I know the two friends accompaning hadn't a clue.

was looking for perfection.

We trekked over the hills through snow that in drifts was several feet deep their gentle teasing about being in the next county or maybe state constant after the first fifteen minutes.
Finally I found just the ‘right’ one. It grew out of the side of a hill (no, the one a few hundred yards away on the flat ground would not do). With effort they cut it down and we started the return trip back to the car which was an ordeal of its own.

It took all three of them to muscle my tree up the stairs and into our apartment. To my chagrin, what looked to be the right size out in the fields was not the right size for the living room. I’d figured wrong.
Again, they teased and joked about sending me out of the apartment until they got it set up (I was hovering, worrying that they'd cut off too much). Finally they hacked enough off to stand it up on the tree stand they fashioned from scrap wood. Furniture had to be moved, end tables stacked on top of each other as the tree took over the living room area.

I'm writing this 49 years later but still feel lighter, more joyful just writing about that perfect Christmas tree, remembering how the whole apartment smelled like a forest, how I sat and stared for hours at my tree. Decorations, while nice, weren't necessary because my perfect tree was spectacular in its natural splendor. I was in alt.
We'd budgeted carefully since September so we’d have a little extra for Christmas. After buying a box of candy for my family and sending a box of greens to his, we had $15.00 ‘extra’. My husband claimed it for himself. I had my tree. He wanted a bottle of Jim Beam.

The weekend before Christmas, my husband handed me a brown paper bag with a gruff ‘here’. I was perplexed. We’d agreed we couldn’t afford to give each other gifts and I did have my tree.
Curious, I opened the bag and in that moment I knew without a doubt, I was loved. My husband, a man of few words but a very hard worker, bought himself a pint of JB so I would have lights for my tree.

Valentine’s Day is coming up. It doesn’t take a lot of money to show someone you love them, that they are important, special people in your life.

I’d like to hear how you want that special someone to ‘show’ you how special you are, how loved you are. If you comment AND leave your email address so I can easily and effortlessly contact you, you’ll be entered in the drawing for a $10.00 gift certificate for Moonstruck chocolates.


© Judith Ashley, 2012. All rights reserved.


Paty Jager said...

Judith, what a great story! I tell my husband all I want is to know he thought about me, so a card that he went to the store and read a few and picked or picking a flower even from my own yard, or doing one of my chores is enough for me. Just one little gesture to show he was thinking of me.

I'm looking forward to the Moonstruck event!

Nancy Crampton-Brophy said...

Great post, Judith. It reminds us all of the two sides of marriage. The one where you want to kill them and the one where you're prepared to kill for them.

Judith Ashley said...

I agree, Paty. It's all about knowing I matter. My granddaughter writes me notes - most recently on the bathroom mirror!

Judith Ashley said...

Yes, Nancy - there were, unfortunately, more of the 'want to kill them' moments. I find it intriguing that this memory is still so strong, brings such a visceral reaction almost 50 years later. The marriage lasted less than 5.

Tam Linsey said...

I can picture your Christmas story perfectly,Judith, and it gave me warm fuzzies.
Your question at the end really struck me. I'm not one who ever thinks about how someone else can make me feel special. I am the "doer" not the "receiver." You made me realize how important it can be to get in touch with what makes ME feel special. Expressing that to my loved ones is a gift to them, too, because when they give to me what I want, they get to feel all the "warm fuzzies" I feel when I give to them.

Sarah Raplee said...

Loved your story and Nancy's comment, LOL.

I feel special and loved when my husband holds my hand in the car and when he cooks for me (he's a wonderful cook.)

Christy Carlyle said...

This is a wonderful story, Judith. I feel blessed that you shared with all of us.

I started a gratitude journal for 2012 to just help me focus on the positive and list those things for which I am grateful. Every time I go to jot down a gratitude, my husband comes to mind.

As for what he could do to show me that I'm loved too... I agree with Paty. A card, a flower, just something to know that he was thinking of me.

Thanks again for your tree story. :)


Judith Ashley said...


There really is a gift in being the receiver. It took me many years before I realized that. Glad my story gave you a nudge in that direction.

Judith Ashley said...

Wow, Sarah. If I had a husband or significant other in my life who cooked wonderful meals for me And held my hand in the car (or anywhere else for that matter) I'd know with a certainty I was special and loved.

Judith Ashley said...

I think a Gratitude Journal is a great idea, Christy. I don't write it down but I usually spend a few minutes each night remembering the good parts of my day. And, I do sleep better!

blackroze37 AT yahoo.com said...

i havnt been texting long. but had to learn to keep in contact with my kids. so i got to randomly sending the a text , i love you . thats all they never responded but 1 day I GOT the random text from my 15yro with i love you ,from her . made my day and week :)

Judith Ashley said...

Can't get too many of those "I Love You" notes!

Diana Mcc. said...

What a wonderful story, Judith! I could picture it perfect. I feel special when my husband picks out that special card for Valentines, Birthdays etc. And when he suggests an outing, just being together for a day of fishing or exploring our new state. dianamcc@vfr.net

Margaret Tanner said...

Wonderful story Judith, your husband might have been a man of few words but he is certainly romantic. It was a lovely gesture, no wonder you cherish it.



Judith Ashley said...

LOL Diana - one of my 'tests' indicating interest in a man is if I'm doing something I wouldn't do by myself but I'm doing it with him - fishing is one of them. Camping is another. So glad you and your husband share similar interests. I think that is a key to a marriage that has a high level of joy and happiness - not just lasts.

Judith Ashley said...

Margaret, Thank you for stopping by all the way from Australia! It surprises me sometimes how one event in a life can have such a profound effect on us. I treasure not only this one, but others from other relationships I've had. Any memory that survives for decades, brings a smile to our faces, joy to our hearts, and a lightness to our souls deserves to be remembered and shared.

shobelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shobelle said...


I love your story!!

I have a couple of my own ...

When we were newly together, I became aware my husband really enjoyed Alfredo sauce on pasta. So, I decided to make some "homemade" Alfredo sauce. It was the worst thing I've ever eaten. I didn't finish my dinner that night, but he did! He didn't want seconds, but he ate my lovingly prepared dinner. I knew I was loved at that moment.

My second story is from a couple years ago, I lost my complete wedding set. My darling husband didn't yell at me, or chastise me, I was doing that enough on my own. He was very patient with me, and it was reaffirmed to me that he loves me.

Thanks for your story, Judith, it was beautiful!

shonijunk (at) yahoo (dot) com

shobelle said...

I deleted my comment because it was an accidental double post.


Terri Reed said...

For me when my hubby sends me to get a pedicure or a massage or facial, makes me feel special. Because those are purely for my enjoyment.

Gimi Garcia said...

Love your story, Judith! It brought to mind my first attempt to provide a special birthday to my first husband. We were living in Barcelona, and I couldn't find or afford the gift I wanted to give him, but decided to make a "from scratch" cake. I mistranslated one of the ingredients, and I remember the cake as actually flaming when I pulled it out of the oven! I was so disappointed I wound up crying, but he comforted me and acknowledged my good intentions, which was quite the loving act on his part.

There is sadly no special man in my life right now. But anyone can show me they love me with a mixed bouquet of flowers and an invite to go out and do something they planned knowing I would enjoy it. I am choosing to relinquish the accustomed "duty" of being initiator and inviter!

Judith Ashley said...


Whatever the gesture is, knowing we are truly loved makes our lives so much better. Thanks for sharing your stories.

Judith Ashley said...


Since I've no special man in my life, I send myself for those pedi/mani/massage appointments because they are just for my enjoyment. It is amazing how much better I feel after spending an hour or so being pampered!

Judith Ashley said...

Wow, Gimi - a flaming birthday cake must have been spectacular!! and perhaps a bit frigthening.

Oh yes, and flowers are a hit here also. I buy them for myself every couple of months...for no reason other than I love adding the color and fragrance to my living space.

Diane said...

Very warm story!
I beleive the gifts that come ' just because " in between" any Holiday are the best and most meaningful. It could be flowers, note, dinner out or in ( made by him) or even something as small as him doing the laundry, cleaning the house or buying my favorite candy bar while at the store.

ElaineCharton said...

What a wonderful story!As long as he remembers me I am happy. And he does. Even if it's just an email to say he loves me. Brightens up my day.

Janelle said...

It really is the little things that count. One year my husband took our early rising son to the bakery to buy me a birthday cake, and I almost cherished that extra hour or so of sleep more than the chocolate treat.

Judith Ashley said...

Diane, If he cleans the house he's a keeper! as I really do not like housework at all.

Judith Ashley said...

Elaine, Those love notes brighten up even the darkest day - trite but true. So glad you have someone who does that for you.

Judith Ashley said...

Janelle, That says it all---when the extra hour of sleep is almost as cherished as the chocolate treat?! What a great memory.