A Sort Of Christmas Story

The calendar has been turned. It's officially December. 

I've made several more trips to the shed. And every time I do, I see that green bag holding my Christmas tree. The tall skinny one that I brought from Texas and put up the first year I was here. I try to keep my eyes averted. 

That green bag has been the big elephant in the room, or the shed, all along. 

I think many of you know why. I think I've finally admitted to myself why I can't get motivated. Why I didn't put that Christmas tree up last year either. 


On Thanksgiving Day, as I've done for so many years, I thought back to that day, 39 years now, that I gave birth to my first child. I had had problems since my sixth month. I was 17. 

I don't know how I got to the hospital that night, the one where poor people went because the state often picked up the tab, back when the state was that generous. I've thought about it at length for many years now and I still don't know who drove me.  

I had the worst headache of my life, I remember that. And I was dizzy. This was about three or four days before Thanksgiving, which fell on the 28th in 1974. Just like it did this year. 

I remember being poked and prodded. I hoped beyond hope that your father would show up. He didn't. 

You see, this was not an unplanned pregnancy. It had been planned for a year, because we were "in love" and wanted to be married, but were too young to sign the papers. At least I was. We figured if we had a baby, we'd be able to be a family. And I wanted that more than anything. 

But things don't always turn out like you think, or hope, they will. He'd found someone else, and she got pregnant. And they were married. Still I kept expecting at least one member of his family to show up while I laid in that bed with nurses checking things and interns and doctors coming in and out of my room. 

The night before Thanksgiving, I was so groggy. I just couldn't stay awake. It was like something was calling me there in the dark, and I was ready for the journey that beckoned. 

A young intern sat by my side most of the night. Occasionally, he'd shake me awake and ask me what year it was. Who the president was. And I'd fall asleep again. My blood pressure was dangerously high, and they couldn't get it to come down. 

The next day, they decided they could wait no more. Pre eclampsia, they said, was nothing to fool around with. 

Back then they cut you up and down, a scar of about 12 inches. And they knocked you out. At that point I was too tired to care.

When I woke up, they said: "you've got a daughter." 

A daughter. 

And not too long after, they brought you to meet me. You had tiny little fingers and toes. And I looked down and counted all of them.

Well, I thought, after I was feeling better: when I get out of here, I'm going to go back to school day and night, and I'm going to still graduate with my class of 1975. 

I don't know how on earth I'm going to do it. But from now on, it's you and me against the world, kiddo.

And I did. And you were there for my high school graduation. I'd had to sit in a class with your father's new pregnant wife, and that wasn't much fun. I was assigned to the same table, unfortunately. Where I had to listen to her tell about their new life together. 

But I know now I was well rid of him. Careful what you wish for, huh? And I don't think they were married a year before they were in divorce court and she gave the baby to her mother to raise.

I had $900 to my name that day I graduated from high school. I found a dilapidated little trailer house and bought it for us. There was a little yard and it was fenced and toward the back. So I thought it would be a good enough place till we could do better. 

I enrolled in a junior college that fall. And took you with me to babysit at night to see us through. 

The world was kind of a scary place and things weren't easy. But I had what I'd wanted all along. I had a family. You and me.


You guys won't believe what I've been doing for the last couple of hours on this windless gray day. Earlier I looked up photos of Christmases past. And I happened upon a folder of that first year here, just two months after I got a divorce and crossed the Texas state line into Oklahoma. The last time I put up that poor skinny Christmas tree. 

I had someone to help me that year. I still had visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. I of course had no idea what was ahead of me, or I'd have never crossed that state line. Not in this direction anyway. 

But they say things happen for a reason. And maybe there's a new place on the map just waiting for me to find it. And maybe one of these days before too awful long, I might be crossing that state line again.

I sat here this morning and gazed at that tree with all the ornaments I'd made, and finally I pushed back this chair and said: "Enough."

I headed out to that shed, the dogs right behind me, and picked up that big green bag. I brought it inside, finally managed to put it together, and I've been fluffing it ever since. I can't figure out the lights, so it might not have any. But that's okay. 

There has been a good amount of thinking and crying while fluffing. Thinking back all those years ago, about the family I was finally going to have. I have to be careful, because Abi can smell a tear a mile away, like Charlie can sniff out a squirrel, and she gets really upset.

Sometimes there are other plans for you. I had been telling myself: who wants to put up a Christmas tree and go to all that trouble if no one is going to come in and see it? 

But then I realized, as I gazed at the photos, you guys are my real family. You and the pupsters. And you will see it. 

And so I'll just keep fluffing. 

And by the way, if I haven't said it lately: "Thank you for being my friends. As well as my family. I'm so very proud and thankful to have you all."

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  1. Hugs and Love to you Brenda. You are brave and honest and share the hardest stuff sometimes.

  2. Oh Brenda, I can't wait to see your Christmas tree! I just know it will be beautiful. I'm happy to be part of your family. There are very few days that I fail to visit with you. Thank you for sharing your life--you have been through so much. Please know there are many who care and love you! xoxo ♥

  3. The honor is all ours, dear lady.

  4. After reading your post I didn't know what to say as I sat here with tears in my eyes. All I can think is it's too bad Oklahoma and Ohio are so far apart. I would come and help you put that tree up. Then we could sit back and admire what you created. Even though we are so far apart I do come and "visit" you every single day and I'm glad that helped you find the courage to tackle that tree. There's a song out that's popular and I love it. One of the lines in the song is "I want to see you be brave". I want that for you. {{HUGS}} Kim

  5. Big ((((HUGS)))) Brenda. I am sorry for all that you have been and continue to go through. I think that putting up and decorating that tree is just what you need right now to bring some beauty into the "gray" day. Thank you for sharing you life and the beauty that you create and surround yourself with with all of us.

  6. Brenda, I wish I knew how to introduce you to my cousin who lives in Drumright. She is alone and, like you, trying to make the very best of her little home and her kitty friend. You are so close and yet so far away from each other. Well, I'm in Oregon (another O state) and you are more than welcome here. Your blog often brings out so much emotion in me. With you in spirit. Will love seeing that tree. Sandra

  7. Brenda, my prayer for you is a Christmas season full of blessings and peace. Bess

  8. You brought my face the biggest smile!! I'm so glad you've tackled your tree!! You've been through outrageous sorrow as well as joy...I prefer to focus on the joys also. I'm looking forward to your blogs in the coming days!! Hugs!!!

  9. Brenda,

    You have truly been through some very trying times, since you were a little girl. Reading about this particular story, the birth of your first born daughter, I can't help but wonder how you coped with such a situation; sitting in the same class with that girl, having to cooperate and be civil...really, I don't know how you managed, aside from the more serious situation of having to independently bring up your daughter! But, you are strong-willed and big hearted and a survivor! Thanks for sharing this stage in your young adult life in such an eloquent manner.


  10. You are a year younger than me Brenda. I graduated in '74. Life has not always been kind to me either but blogging has helped.

  11. Happy 24th day before Christmas Brenda. I think it took a lot of strength to get your tree out to be fluffed and decorated.. You've been through more hard times than the law should allow.
    We are all God's children so that makes us all family in one way or another..
    My family consists of my son, daughter and me.. I have other relatives in other states but never hear a word from them.
    This time of the year is especially hard when we've lost loved ones or ones not so loved.. I've shed lots of tears myself in the past few weeks..
    I've heard that "if what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger".. I think you're a much stronger person and have leaned a lot since your move from Texas.
    Just because I don't write a comment everyday doesn't mean that I'm not thinking about you and am concerned for your well being..
    I've been thinking, too, about ideas on Pinterest.. I think I've gotten overwhelmed with ideas and my mind is boggled as to what I want to do here in my home.. There are soooo many beautiful ideas on Pinterest and I absolutely love going from one board to another, even if I don't have one of my own.
    If you're hesitant about decorating for yourself, do it for Charlie and Abi.. AND you know, all of your reader friends are waiting to visit via your blog too.
    Christmas hugs,
    Charlotte in Virginia

  12. You are such an amazing and strong woman. I could so picture you alone with your baby girl in that little trailer. Maybe that's where you got your decorating sense from. I told you just wait and the time would come you'd be ready to decorate. Can't wait to see the tree. It's going to be beautiful! Heck, no lights, you'll save on electricity!

  13. I hope that putting up the tree will help you work through at least some of the challenges you're facing, or have faced in the past. When you settle down in your chair and look at the glowing lights, I hope that you'll find some peace as well as some new strength among the branches.

  14. You are such a special person and very special to me! I know that you, I and the pupsters will enjoy that tree. I'm sorry I haven't been around as much as I used to, but you know the circumstances that are beyond my control.

    I know the tree will be beautiful!!


  15. Thank you for being my friend too. Love, love, love the photos and get so many of my ideas from you. Have had a bit of depression the last few months from a twisted ankle. It is healing now and I can walk carefully and then rest, putting it up for a while. Somehow with so much needing to be done it is discouraging to need to rest the ankle so much. I know you more than understand how this feels.Thank you for being you. For being honest! Maybe I'll put a small tree up this year too and I was not planning on it. Thank you for not turning your back on your friends like some have done to you and to me. Hugs!!

  16. Brenda! :) XXOO

    FAMILY : just today I saw a very real example of blogger-families. Nana Diana has had a prayer request out for her grandson. People that have seen that have been praying and checking in. The latest post that I saw had a BLOGGER letting her know about Kristen's little son ( Uncommon Slice of Suburbia ) awhile back. I remember praying for him along with many others. That blogger influenced the medical / hospital teams that had not tested for this condition yet.

    When you think of something like the blogging family somehow influencing a medical team to possibly save a childs life...then this blogging family really comes into perspective / virtual, perhaps. REAL? yes.

    Our blogging family is very real..whether it pertains to prayer, support,appreciation of our talents ( decor, sewing, cooking,etc ) or just daily stuff. I think that it is a very strong network of friends...:)

  17. I hardly know what to say, Brenda! Except that you're a very courageous and determined woman with so many gifts...especially the gift to keep going and persevere no matter what life brings your way. The gift to encourage and inspire others. I'm honored to know you and blessed to call you friend!!
    Mary Alice

  18. Christmas is not easy...and each year it gets really hard and easy at the same time weird right...every year I wonder how we are going to pull it off . Yet my spirit is fragile during this time and I am truly on robot mode for my family. I had my first miscarriage on Christmas day many years ago and it jaded me...so I go through the motions and for the past 3 years every Christmas day I look around and cannot believe that we pulled it off and my children got to experience a magical day! I do it for them, I am happy and humbled that you will create some Christmas for us, your readers....thank you

  19. Oh, Dear Brenda! I consider you my blog sister as well. I'm so sorry for all you've gone through, all of the hurt and pain. But you've proven you're one strong lady whether you believe it or not. I'm so proud of you that you're putting up your tree and yes, I'll be here to see it when you're through. Please know I pray for you!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  20. I'll be waiting to see your tree! Take care of yourself!

  21. Love you girl and this post has brought tears to my eyes. I wish I lived close to you and we could hang out together for a day talk, craft and have some lunch and tea.... Let's be friends , because you are my friend in my heart. I read your blog every day and it always makes my day better...

  22. I want to listen to you all day and night. I think it is because our situations are a lot alike. You comfort me Brenda. I am so sorry he did you like that! And your daughter. And your ex. Why us? Probably 90% married 50 years in retirement with great health insurance. The ones who have no clue of our daily lives. Please take care. Im glad you got your tree. I cant hobble for anything. My dryer went out. And my appointment Tuesday. Ugh. I feel like Christmas is far away. Thanks for your post. Your too nice to have hurtful things happen to you. Yes I believe there are reasons for our pain.. Now at 57 I still dont see alot...some yes for my protection but others....?

  23. Like Tammy wrote, the honor is ours.

    Best Wishes to you & the pups.

  24. I am so happy that you are the strong person that you are. You have gone through so much. You graduated 1 year after I did. So we are about the same age. But I have never gone through that much in my life. I can't wait to see what you did with the tree. You are so creative that I bet it is beautiful!

  25. Christmas is a very difficult period, even and overall, if we have family ! Like you, I am living alone but
    after my divorce, I didn't want to see the old ornaments and they went to the bin. I bought new ones,
    just for me and my friends to see them.
    You are very strong and I can not wait to see your Christmas tree.
    Take care (sorry for my English !).

  26. Family is blood, certainly, but the best family are people who care about each other no matter what, and that's us. Yours is the first blog I read EVERY day, and then one other. If you ever decide to come to the East Coast, come to Cape Cod. I live in an affordable senior garden apartment complex with a small backyard, where I grow tomatoes and peppers every year, and flowers in the front. Think about it.

  27. I can't wait to see your tree and how you decorate your home this year! It sounds like such a difficult time in your life right now and I'm so sorry. We are all rooting for you and praying better days come soon! ~ Jamie

  28. Another wonderful post!!!! I am so like you....Bella and I are getting ready for our Christmas too.....for us! Keep strong, you inspire me!!!!

  29. Wow, what a heart felt post, one from you for us all to read. You have grown into a strong lady through the events in your life. You are an inspiration.

    I started decorating yesterday and it feels good. I loved doing it all the years of our marriage and will enjoy it until I am called home to join my dear husband. I'm even thinking of doing 2-3 trees this year, a FIRST. I'm sure my husband is laughing and enjoying what I am doing down here. I can here him telling me to go for it and 'at-a-girl'.

    I look forward to seeing how your sweet cozy home looks decorated for Christmas.

    Enjoy and be well ~ Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

  30. I'm really glad that you decided to bring the tree in! Can't wait to see it. You have seen some hard times and I'm sorry for that...make some lemonade out of those lemons this Christmas ;)

  31. I would be honored to have you cross about 5 state lines and come be my big sis. I have a 58 yr. old half sister who I guess thinks she only had to put a 1/2 as- effort into being one. You can fluff and vent and be surrounded by my crazy Christmas Story vs. Currier and Ives family for as long as your sweet,broken and patched big ole heart desires! I may not comment often but I read daily and I have laughed,cried and worried and prayed with you for almost 2 yrs.now and I am sending you a big hug and a cup of courage as you face the hardest part of the year to face..the time when our emotions are on a snow covered peppermint sprinkled roller coaster. I wish some people had just a smidge of the keen and genuine perception our pets have to know when we are in need of compassion. I wish you a future where you can stay planted and a grow the family you never had but have deserved your whole brave life. I wish you a present that can be filled with cozy days with the pups and enough candle glow and season bright to get you through these next weeks and I wish you the continued courage and wisdom overcoming the scars and fractured fairy tales of your past. Yes, your blog family is right there in the living room with you applauding each ornament you place....hang in there my friend.

  32. Oh, my goodness! You made me tear up first thing on a Monday morning. You have such a precious story. Even though it is hard, and maybe a little painful, it is precious because it is YOUR story, and you are a precious lady. I have been reading your blog less than a month, but I do feel "connected", like we are old friends. Bless you, Brenda, and hugs to you. Now, you rock that tree! I want to see pictures! :)

  33. We are your family! I think you are a brave and strong woman. So proud of you for getting out that tree, don't let the bad defeat you. Wishing you a good day! Big Hugs!

  34. I'm a fairly new subscriber - I cannot remember what post popped up in a google search that led me here, but from the first time I visited your page, you felt like a friend. You are such a brave and warm person, and you have such a beautiful way of sharing your interests with your viewers. I just wanted to say thanks, and no, you're not alone. All of us fans come see you everyday! Merry Christmas, Brenda!

  35. Brenda,
    I have followed your blog for a very long time.I know you have been through so much in your fifty years. I admire your writing and pictures skills.. I am not good with words but I keep thinking that maybe if you would write your "life story" down on paper that maybe it would be a healing process. And again maybe it wouldn't. Just thought there ought to be someway you can get rid of all that pain and stuff that remains in your head and heart. Its placing all your "stuff/hurts into a garbage bad and throwing it away. Believe me I know that's not easy - its hard to shut down the video that runs in our head and minds.
    Get your tree fluffed and enjoy it with your fur babies. Sending your (((((((((((hugs)))))))))))).

  36. I thought for a brief moment of not putting up a tree this year too. I still have my Mom with me, so I decided to do it for her. Not sure how many years I will still have Christmas with her. I am pairing down the things I'm putting up this year. I did for fall too. It was better that way and no trouble to take down.
    I didn't realize her birthday was at Thanksgiving. My father, who has passed away, had his birthday then too. It makes the holiday complicated sometimes, doesn't it? Glad we became friends through your blog.
    Glad you are putting up that tree for you, the pups, Judy and your friends that look in through your blog.
    Look forward to seeing it.

  37. Oh dear Brenda my heart hurts so much for you. I so wish things could be different for you.....that your family could see the treasure they have and travel from who cares how far to see you and be with you. But you are right WE are your family and I'm so glad you are putting up that tree! I can't wait to see you cozy little house all decked out with Christmas decor and brimming with color as only YOU know how to do! Those furbabies will love it as well, I'm sure of that.

  38. Brenda, I always read your writings. Actually, I scroll down the list and always read your's first. Today's brought tears and then a smile. You have a strength that always surfaces when you confront your past battles and the influence they have on your daily existence. An amazing quality for a truly amazing woman. I am looking forward to your upcoming posts! Now have some fun for the pups as you decorate ! Cannot wait to visit! Hugs from Texas!

  39. Life is just plain ol' hard sometimes, isn't it? And the holidays don't make it any easier. I'm glad you put up the tree for yourself. Perhaps when it's all decorated, you'll realize how beautiful it is and it will put a smile on your face. You're a brave and strong woman, my friend. Hugs to you.

  40. big hugs for you and some smooches for your babies! My Mom used to never decorate...she'd say, oh, it's just me, and why bother. I say that's the Most important reason to 'bother'. I love your home and can't wait to see your Christmas decorations~!

  41. Brenda, My heart does hurt for you and I am sending you a big hug! I don't want to offend you, however please allow me to say that I truly believe that God sees every tear that we shed and He loves you so much. As long as we live on this earth we will have joy and we will have sorrow. God bless you my friend,Carolyn in Florida

  42. Brenda, as others have said I may not comment but I check out your blog often. Just remember that God tells us "Let not your heart be troubled................as Carolyn said he knows all your worries and he is always there beside you with his love. As I read all the comments you do have a lot of Family that cares about you.
    God cares and we all do too!

  43. One more thing If you do ever cross the Texas Oklahoma border I live in the first town on Int.35 give me call I would enjoy meeting you.


  44. I have tears reading your blog today. What a very strong woman you are to come all this way. I for one, can not wait to see your tree. I enjoy seeing everything in your sweet home. How I wish you lived close to me, I would so love to be your BFF in real life..but since I can't be there. or you here, I will pretend...as I read your blog each and every day. Sending smiles, hugs, and love your way. Bonnie in WI

  45. I truly wonder if you know what a strong woman you are. Can't wait to see your tree! ;)

  46. Well, you brought tears to my eyes. Keep fluffing, we look forward to seeing that skinny tree.

  47. Brenda, I am so glad I found this post that I had missed. I'm just so proud of the young woman that you were, that you did not give up, that you were determined to make a life for your daughter and yourself. What odds were against you! I think we've all seen evidence this last week on blogs of what blogging can mean in our lives--Nana Diana's little grandson alive and recovering because one blogger reached out with information that the doctors had not figured out, with all their training. I think of bloggers who have lost dear pets, just as I did almost a year ago. I know that the empathy bloggers have for others helps so much.

    You know we always love visiting Cozy Little House and we'll look at that Christmas tree of yours now when you show it with new understanding as it is really a badge of courage that you're putting up.

  48. girl, you have got it now!!! the most important person that will see your tree is YOU!! you are resorceful, brave, encouraging, beautiful....and you've got "WORD BLING"...you can write!! I can't wait to see your tree after you are done fluffing!! YOU are ROCK'N my world today!
    Rebecca...gma to 8 little girls :)

  49. Brenda, I am way behind in blog reading, and just getting to this now. I have only been reading your blog for a few months, but I feel honored to have gotten to know you. In my short time of blogging, I've been amazed at how close you can feel to people you haven't met in person. So, yes, blogging is a family, and I am so happy to be a part of yours. Sending you a huge hug...

  50. Great write-up! Writing is a talent, and it must not be wasted. As with everything that we had been entrusted, we should let it grow and share it with the world.>learner motivation


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