Our first Christmas in Indiana, (not counting the arrival-after-driving-all-day-Christmas-Day VERY first one, which was necessitated by Chris’ having to be back here on duty the next day) was a lovely time. We’d met a lot of new friends, and since many of them were far from home, we’d had many, many of them over for meals and evenings. As a matter of fact, the little “guest book” I was given as a hostess gift contained almost three hundred names that first year (including many repeats, of course, with quite a few names written over and over during the course of the year).
We wanted to get our tree up to enjoy for a couple of weeks before the holiday, as we’d be traveling back to Alabama for the celebration with family, but with this and that, we hadn’t bought one til along about the fifteenth or so, though we’d decorated the little apartment with a few things we’d purchased or brought along.
One night, as we were on our nightly walk around the complex, enjoying the brisk air and the beautiful night skies, we saw a lumpish shape like a dark trash bag by the dumpster out behind the offices/party room. Small gleams of tinsel in the lights of the parking area showed it to be a smallish tree lying on the ground, with the little stand still clamped to the trunk. We picked it up, looked it over in the dark for breakage or debris, and carried it home, each on one end, like transporting a limber green picnic cooler.
We stood it up on our little patio and brushed away a few leaves, marveling at our good fortune that the party hosts had apparently discarded tree, stand, and some small shining ornaments, as well. It was exactly the right size for fitting in front of our patio door, and all decorated, as well, like a lovely gift just found lying on the ground. The small flat square decorations sort of fluttered in the cold breeze, and I gently unhooked one to get a closer look. It had the look of a ketchup packet, with writing on the sides, but---if I may be a bit indelicate here---a CONDIMENT it was not.
SOMEONE had had a party theme we still cannot fathom, lo, these twenty-something years later, for our sweet little from-the-sky tree was gaily hung with a couple of dozen fluttering flat packets best not mentioned in polite company, and certainly not on a nice lady’s blog. They’d even bought the proper little hook hangers, and strands of silver tinsel in preparation for this odd party, and skewered every small sachet right through for hanging.
We gave it a whole new start in life, with pretty baubles and a strand of pearls, I remember, to live down such an embarrassing debut display amongst some VERY STRANGE people. We've had very few folks we know well enough to tell such an odd story to---til now.