Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Life Lessons from a Double Wide: Christmas Trees don't really need stands

Some of you may recall the Double Wide series here on the blog. It was the beginning of the Autry Adventure. We lived in a double wide trailer for the first four years of our marriage and I learned some valuable lessons during that time.

Well, every year at Christmas I can't help but think back to our first Christmas together as a married couple in our trailer. I'm sure it was similiar to the first Christmas in the manger. Well, you know except for the birth of our savior and all. It was a sweet, simple Christmas full of recycled gifts and Christmas trees.

It all began when I was getting my hair cut and colored. I mentioned to the girl that was cutting my hair that Jamie and I did not have a Christmas tree. Now, why it didn't occur to me to just go get a real one, I'll never know. We had always had artificial trees growing up, I wasn't even aware that people still had real trees. Anyway (that is my most used phrase on the blog)...she told me that her and her husband had an artificial tree that they were not using and going to give away. So I quickly took her up on that offer. I could not pass up a free tree.

She did mention that it didn't have a stand, but I thought that was a minor detail.

So we got the tree and came home to put it up. We didn't exactly have a lot of extra cash floating around during that time. There was no extra money for christmas tree stands or groceries for that matter. We decided to do what the Autry family is best known for, we would improvise (or rig, as I like to say).

Jamie found an old paint can and we put the tree down in that. We stuffed grocery bags all around the bottom of it to hold it in place. Then we placed the paint can in a big box. We stuffed clothes and shoes around the paint can to hold that in place. And wallah....the tree was standing.

But then we had a problem....

When we went to put the ornaments and lights on, the tree started falling forward. With each addition of ornament the farther over it would fall. We both stood there, looking at the tree, trying to figure out what we should do. Then Jamie came up with an idea.

He went and found a nail and a shoestring. He hammered the nail into the wall behind the tree and tied the shoestring around the tree and around that nail. It made it stand perfectly up straight. We no longer had to worry about the tree falling over. It was a Christmas miracle. Jamie and I stood back and looked at the tree after it was all up and decorated and we both started to cry. It wasn't much, but it was ours. Paint can, shoestring and all.

Presents were another issue all together that year. It was the first time that we were on our own for Christmas. Our parents were past the stage of just putting our name on their gift. We had to really buy people stuff. So we did what anyone else would do in that situation, we gave away stuff we didn't use.

I remember that we had received some binoculars at a dirty santa gift exchange earlier in the season. We thought that those would be a perfect gift for Jamie's dad. It worked great until he asked us where we got them. He thought he would exchange them for something that he needed. We told him that we couldn't remember and didn't keep the receipt.

I don't remember what I got Jamie that year, but I'll never forget what he gave me. I got a curling iron and a blue shirt. I don't know if I've told you about this before, but I can not hide my expressions on my face. You can usually tell what I am thinking by my face (good or bad). So when I opened up that shirt, I think Jamie could probably tell it wasn't my favorite thing I got that year. He asked if I liked it and I said yes. He said, "I'm sorry that it is not a lot, but it's really all I could afford." My eyes got all teary and I told him I loved it and would keep it forever. I think I actually wore it once too. But I'll never, ever get rid of it.

The next year we were able to purchase a new Christmas tree (stand and all). But, I'll never forget that first Christmas. What we cared about was that we were together. It didn't matter how much or how little we had. We were thankful that we had a roof over our head and a place that had heat. Even if it was infested with mice and mold and we had bad water. Or that our Christmas tree had to be held up by a shoestring and a paint can.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I know, I know....I'm a big 'ol slacker

So, I haven't been great at updating the blog the past month or two. I really apologize about that. I know that the four of you who actually read this blog just haven't been the same without it. I can feel your pain. I don't know what I would do if I wasn't around myself for a month. I am highly entertaining. And humble.

I thought about making a list of things that have happened since our last encounter. I won't write any more poems, but don't you of those might appear again someday.
So here we go...all the events in the life of the Autry's since last time-

1. Jamie made it home safely and we were very happy about it. I will leave it at that.

2. Loop De Lou has been swamped with Christmas orders. People need their paper. And they need it by Christmas. So, I have been working like a real person at a regular job. I almost worked 40 hours last week. Watch out. Move over Donald Trump...I'm making my way into corporate America.

3. We had Thanksgiving with Jamie's family and I got to bring hot food. I also made my first ever pie. Before then I had been a pie virgin. But I made a mean apple pear crumble pie. It was a hit. And I also made the sweet potato casserole which qualifies me in the Autry household as a "real" woman. Betty Crocker really doesn't hold a candle.

4. I went home to Clarksville and two great events happened there. First, I got to see all of my friends from high school at our annual Christmas party. It is always fun to get together with friends from high school. Its always like "Oh, my goodness...guess what I heard..." and "Oh, you know who I saw the other day...". Then we listened to the spice girls and reminaced (i really wish it would underline and automatically correct my spelling) about every boy and every girl, all the people of the world and remembered that we do need to spice up our lives after all.
Then an even greater event occured. Jamie and I were the recipiants (need spell check again here) of a new washer and dryer. Well, new to us. It was like Christmas. We came home hooked those babies up and I can't quit washing clothes. Last week every towel in the house was clean. That hasn't happened since April. It was an exciting time in our lives. I have to resist the urge to hug them on occassion.

5. We went on a little trip. Not the acid kind. But to Nashville. We went to see Nickel Creek and their Farewell for now tour. It was ahhh mazing. Jill and William (Jamie's sister and her husband) accompanied us. It was our goal on the trip to convince Jill and William that we are the most fun couple they know. By the end we made them say it.
They left the day after the concert and Jamie and I stayed one more night. You see, ever since we have been married, I have been telling Jamie how much I would love to visit the Opryland hotel at Christmas. I wanted to see all the lights, to walk hand and hand through the mezzanine, sip on coffee, and stop at the little cafe and have dessert. This was going to be the year. We were staying right across the street ('cause you know the actual Opryland hotel ain't cheap). Anyway, it was all planned. Then thanks to Burger King and their crappy chicken sandwich, Jamie came down with a case of the 'ol food poisoning. We made it to the hotel only to pay $17 in parking walk inside for a few minutes and then leave so Jamie could go back to the hotel and spend some time alone with the porcelain (i really can't spell) throne. Thanks a lot BK, see if I ever prefer your fries again in a taste test.

6. Tim Tebow won the Heisman (I really should have put this as number 1). For those of you who don't know, he is the sophomore quarterback for the Florida Gators. He's gotten just a little bit of press this year.

7. I learned that I love apple cider. Which shouldn't surprise me. I am always game for a hot cup of anything.

8. We made our first ever advent tree. I use the term tree loosly here. It's really just a branch. I have pictures and a really good story about retreiving the brance that I may save for another day. Just trust me when I say it's got Autry written all over it.

I guess that get's us all caught up. We are finally nearing the end of our Christmas rush at Loop De Lou and I think I will have all next week off. Hopefully I can be more faithful to the blog! Stay tuned for another installment of Life Lessons from a Double Wide. You have to hear about our first Christmas there. It's truly heartwarming.....