36. Fit to Be Tied

36. Fit to Be Tied

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Matters


Fit to Be Tied

A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.

~Garrison Keillor

Whoever said that second marriages are twice as hard as first marriages hit the nail on the head. When I met my second husband, I felt my dreams had been answered. We both agreed we wouldn’t introduce our children to each other until we knew our relationship was serious. When we got married, I had no illusions that blending two families would be easy.

We were married in May. When Christmas rolled around, we wondered how we would fare with five kids between us, ranging in age from six to fifteen. Some days were pretty hairy, but we were managing.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, we made the decision to go on a search for the perfect Christmas tree. We hit a couple of tree lots, but nothing looked good. Finally, we found a lot where the trees were reasonable and well-shaped. We had four of the five children with us. They were full of Christmas spirit and starting to get on my husband’s nerves. To me, they were just being kids.

We all jumped out of the car on this cold day, and the children immediately started wandering all over the lot. My husband, getting grumpier by the minute, ordered everyone back to the car.

It was evident his patience was wearing thin. I gathered the children, and we all sat in the car while he paid for the tree we had selected. We waited patiently while the man from the tree lot placed the tree on top of the car. The lot man gave my husband some rope to tie it on. Being a dutiful wife, I followed my husband’s directions as he handed me an end of the rope and advised me to hand it back at the demanded time. This process was repeated several times.

By now, he was on the verge of going ballistic, so I dared not say a word as he completed securing the tree to the roof of the car. After checking it by tugging on the rope several times, he was sure it wouldn’t blow off or move until we got it home, just a few short blocks away.

Then, he attempted to open the driver’s side door. He pushed the button on the door handle and pulled on it. He had tied the door shut with the rope!

The children looked terrified. I, on the other hand, started to smile. The smile turned into an audible giggle, and the giggle sparked relief and amusement on the part of the children. My husband, realizing what he had done and feeling more than a little foolish, started to relax. But the calmness turned to embarrassment as the lot attendant stood watching while he untied the tree and re-secured it, tying it to the bumpers this time.

By the time we got home, we were all laughing so hard that tears ran down our cheeks. My husband, still not happy but not enraged, laughed along with us until we got home and took the tree off the car.

That happened more than twenty-five years ago, but we still retell the story every Christmas. And every Christmas my husband begs us not to retell it! But it is a fond memory of a particularly difficult time for all of us, which we recall with affection and love.

~Ann Williamson

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