Friday, 14 December 2007

Christmas Memories, as promised (with photo update)

Every ornament on the tree has a story. If you are here while I decorate the tree you will hear me tell it. Most years I decorate the tree by myself and talk to the walls. The kids already know the stories. This is why it takes 5 hours to decorate our tree.

There is a silver plastic lantern and a green plastic bell. They are Betty's ornaments. Betty was a neighbour and friend to us when we were very young, newly wed and living east of Main St, South of Broadway in Vancouver.

Betty was a bit older, already lived a rough life and had a sweet daughter. They lived in a car before they moved into the apartment building on East 11th. Betty worked on East Hastings at a charity shop that provided help to street people. All that Betty had came from there.

Betty liked us and we liked Betty, we owned very little - just starting out with a suitcase and love; Betty and her daughter had much less. Then it was Christmas, our 2nd year being married. Our tree was a potted live tree and we covered it in the same red, gold and green satin bows that we used Year 1 (still no ornaments).

She could not stand the idea of a tree without ornaments so Betty gave us 2 of hers.

We decided to have a gift exchange between us. I suspect that there was no one else in Betty and her daughter's life to give or receive from. For weeks Betty excitedly questioned me as to what Peter would like and I suggested Hoyle's Book of Rules (card games). I figured that this would settle many future [and past] arguments.

Christmas morning arrived and after our cozy little holiday celebration we heard a bit of scuffle in the hallway. Looking out the peephole I saw a few guys getting into the elevator and a couple very close to our door. We paid no mind.

Later that day Betty called on the intercom, questions hanging in mid air.... We had a gift for her and her daughter and so we asked her to come up. She wondered how we liked our gifts, how Peter liked the Hoyle's. the words sort of stumbled around but no, we had not found her gift. It had been left in a bag a while ago, on our door knob. The stumble bums likely had taken it. Betty would not accept our gifts, not until she could provide a gift for us to receive in return.

Betty may never know, her humble plastic silver lantern and green bell still are hung proudly on our tree many Christmases and much success later. Betty's generosity and pride are honoured.

Even my DD, when newly married, said that she would need a silver plastic lantern and green bell for her tree, Betty's ornaments. I guess the story was heard, learned and appreciated. Betty, thank you again, for another Christmas filled with appreciation for the love and gifts that we already have,


  1. What a lovely memory!

  2. What a beautiful story and tradition. Thanks for sharing.


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