77. Love Notes on My Tree

77. Love Notes on My Tree

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas!

Love Notes on My Tree

What cannot letters inspire? They have souls; they can speak; they have in them all that force which expresses the transports of the heart.…

~Héloïse to Abelard

“I wish I could find enough words to tell you how much I love you,” said my tall, dark and handsome husband, holding me tight.

He worried about not being able to buy me a present. Emmitt had just finished his tenure in the Army and had enrolled in college on the GI Bill. We had been married only a few months, and he wanted our first Christmas to be special.

“You’re my present and always will be,” I answered. He smiled with relief. “Come on,” I said. “Let’s go shopping for a tree. Maybe we’ll find one we can afford.”

I think the salesman guessed our financial condition. “The trees have been picked over, but believe it or not, I have just the tree for you. I’ll sell it for one dollar.”

We thanked him and hurried home with the tree. We had nothing to decorate it with so we just sat and looked at it, listening to “White Christmas” playing on our little radio.

“Let’s dance,” Emmitt said, pulling me close. I thought I was in heaven.

Before he went to class the next day, he wrote me a love note. Telling me not to look at it until Christmas, he folded the paper carefully and tied it to the tree.

I decided to do the same thing. I would write a love note and hang it on the tree, too!

Emmitt noticed my creation and wrote another of his own the next day, and so did I. By the time Christmas Eve came, our “love note” ornaments “dressed” the tree in beauty.

Emmitt was still worried that I would be disappointed at not receiving a gift for Christmas.

Christmas Day arrived. Sitting together on the floor, we opened our love notes, and read them aloud to each other, moving ever closer.

Finally, I folded my last precious note and looked into his big brown eyes. “You are God’s gift to me,” I said, “and that’s the greatest gift I could ever receive!”

He pulled me up, swept me off my feet, and twirled me around. We danced to the kitchen where we had a Christmas dinner of tuna sandwiches. To us, that tuna was a feast.

After Christmas, I took the notes off the tree and put them in a box. Little did we know we were starting a tradition. The next Christmas, we added new notes, and I carefully placed them in another box.

By the time our boys came along, we had a lot of Christmas notes. Each holiday, we wrote notes to them, too. They, of course, wanted to scribble on paper and hang their notes on the tree. We called it our “love tree.”

As our sons grew, their notes became priceless. “Mommy, will you marry me when I grow up?” “Mommy, I love you because you pillow fight with me.” “Mommy, do you want a dog that I saw outside for Christmas?”

“Daddy can we go rock hunting for Christmas?” “Daddy, I like the way you throw balls.” “Daddy, you’re the best daddy!”

All too soon, the boys grew up and had babies of their own. Yet, even today, every Christmas season, our grandchildren write love notes to hang on our special tree.

Our granddaughters never become tired of hearing stories about our first Christmas. “Mawmaw, could we read some of the notes Granddad wrote to you a long time ago on your first tree?”

“Of course,” I say. I want them to know the extravagant love their grandparents have for each other.

We gather around in a circle, and each person gets a turn to pick a love note. Each one goes to the tree, picks a note on which his or her name is written, and pausing for effect, reads it aloud.

Jody starts. Pulling the first note from the tree, he unties the ribbon and unfolds the paper on which it is written. Smoothing the paper, he reads it to his granddad: “Granddad, I’m so thankful that you passed on a name to be proud of to my father, who in turn, passed it on to me!” I look at my tall, dark, and handsome grandson, and I see in him the tall, dark, and handsome man I married so long ago. In my mind, I hear the words “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” and in my heart, I dance with him again.

Love notes on our tree have become a legacy that has now soared with wings of love for four generations.

~Joan Clayton

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