Susan at By Grace shared a Christmas memory last week, and that started my wheels turning, so I thought I’d do the same. I’ve shared this particular one before, but maybe some have not seen it or have forgotten it.
My husband and I were married Dec. 21. We didn’t have a honeymoon — we could not afford one and didn’t have time because we were both still college students. I had “crammed four years into five” as the saying goes and was in my second senior year, so I only had three classes left for my last semester.
We spent our first night in a hotel in Houston and planned to go back to my folks house the next day to pack up my things in a U-Haul and then start the drive back to SC. But something went wrong with our car and we ended up having to stay overnight. We couldn’t afford a second night in a hotel room, so we stayed with my folks…and let me tell you, it felt very awkward bringing my new husband into my old bedroom at the ol’ home place on just our second night together!
We started out the next day, I believe, and must’ve stayed overnight somewhere in-between because we got to SC about 11 p.m. Christmas Eve. We were renting a furnished mobile home from one of our college professors. We hadn’t seen it yet: at the time we talked with him, the trailers he had were occupied but he was in the process of buying another one and said we could rent it. So this trailer and location were new to him as well. We called him when we got into town and he took us over to the trailer, showed us around, gave us the keys, and invited us to a Christmas banquet that the university was having the next day.
We unpacked just what we needed for the night and fell into bed. First thing the next morning, Christmas morning, we were startled awake by very loud and insistent pounding on our door. My husband scrambled himself together enough to open the door when what should his wondering eyes behold but a short grey-haired man — with no beard, no red suit, and a decidedly unjolly expression.
It turned out to be the man who owned the mobile home park. He had not been told that anyone new was moving in, and furthermore, he did not allow renters. He was very upset. I don’t know how the transaction had occurred between our landlord and the previous owners without taking into account the need to contact the landlord of the mobile home park — maybe they each understood the other was going to do that. I don’t remember exactly what Jim told him: something to the effect that we were sorry, we didn’t know, we’d have our landlord contact him.
When we went to the Christmas banquet we explained the situation, and the professor met with the trailer park owner and worked things out so that we were allowed to stay. So we had two landlords, one for the trailer and one for the space we were renting.
It was the nicest trailer park I had ever seen, with only fourteen trailers, a good amount of space between trailers, and a lot of trees. The owner was a shuffling little old man who wasn’t a physical threat to anyone, but he had an air of authority about him and drove through through the park several times a day to check on things. Looking at the situation from his point of view, his reaction was quite understandable, though it was disconcerting to us to find out that someone was very upset with us and we might be kicked out of our first place to live on Christmas day. But once that was settled we had a very amiable relationship for the six years we lived there.
I had a little two-foot-high aluminum tree that had belonged to my grandfather, and we hit the after-Christmas sales the next day for a few decorations and celebrated our first Christmas together a few days late. I don’t remember anything else about that first Christmas except for one pair of ornaments we bought.
The brown-haired boy represented Jim, and the blond girl represented me, and they were made of wax. But one year they got a little melted up in the attic. I couldn’t even get them out of the plastic bags because they were stuck. I don’t know why I haven’t thrown them away. Well, yes I do: I’m sentimental. I put all my Christmas candles in a box in a storage closest now so they don’t melt any more up in the attic, and I keep these in with them.
Despite that inauspicious beginning, we’re coming up on our 33rd Christmas together! Thankfully I think all the rest of them were relatively happy, as far as I can remember: the only one other one I remember having any problems was one when all five of us were sick as dogs. All the rest contained some combination of family, food, gifts, and most important, faith in the One whose birth we celebrate that day and who came to offer salvation to all who would believe.
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