Christmas Trees For Sale

When I was 4 years old, my father lost his job on the Friday before Thanksgiving. All throughout his adult life, my father never once called in sick. Even so, due to the lagging economy that year, he and many other employees were laid off from the local aluminum factory. With less than a month before Christmas, a mortgage to pay and three children, my father had to figure out a way to support our family. My sisters were 7 and 8.

One week later, on the day after Thanksgiving, my mother walked 5 miles in the snow down to the shopping center in our town. Her plan was to apply at every single store until she found a job. The first store on the strip mall was Kinney Drugs, a small drugstore chain in upstate NY. She walked in and asked if she could fill out an application. Within an hour, the store manager had hired her. Because Christmas was just a few weeks away, he asked her if she could start right away. The following day she made the 5 mile walk back down to the shopping center and started working as a store clerk. My mother, who had been a stay-at-home-Mom for 8 years, was now supporting our family. She was making minimum wage, less than $6 an hour that year.


With Christmas just weeks away, my father decided to take advantage  of  the  season. He thought that maybe he could make some money by selling Christmas trees. Since my mother was now working full-time and we were all too small to stay home alone, Dad loaded my sisters and I into the car and drove us out to a tree farm in Brasher Falls, about 30 minutes away.  When we got to the farm, my father asked my sisters and I to get out of the car. That’s where he left us.  He drove off and we never saw my parents ever again. [Just KIDDING. Just wanted to throw some humor into this sad story.]

At the tree farm, my oldest sister, who was 8, helped my father find the best looking trees while my other sister and I played in the snow.

Dad tagged as many of the best trees as he could find and hired a man to deliver them all back to our house. Later that afternoon, a giant truck pulled up in front of our house and delivered 75 beautiful Scotch Pines. My sisters and I helped Dad tie ropes to the trees so we could drag them into our yard. Living in upstate NY, we had several feet of snow, which made it much easier to display the trees. Dad arranged them neatly in rows, leaving  room  for  potential  customers  to  walk  between  and  around the  trees as they searched for the best ones.

Being only 4, I didn’t really understand why our small yard was now suddenly overflowing with Christmas trees. And I’m not sure what our neighbors thought. But what I do remember is how much fun it was suddenly having 75 trees in our front and back yard.  While Mom was at work at the drug store, my sisters and I were outside in our snowsuits with Dad each day, running and playing in the snow and interacting with the customers. It was a small town, so I’m sure many people knew about our situation.

And even though Mom wasn’t making very much money, Kinney Drugs was one of the biggest toy stores in town at that time. Employees were able to make purchases at cost (which was less than half price), including toys. And because my sisters and I all believed in Santa, Mom made sure there were plenty of presents under our tree that year.

One afternoon a man named Ross  Violi, a local business man and owner of the most popular restaurant in town, came by and bought enough trees  and  boughs to  decorate  his entire restaurant for the holidays.  He could have purchased Christmas trees from anyone else in town. But instead, he decided to buy them all from Dad. Anyone who knows the Violi’s knows what a wonderful and generous family they are. And to this day, my family is very grateful they were so kind to us that year.

After that, word spread throughout town, and soon we were running  out  of  trees.

What had started out as as a risk had paid off. Once again, we made another trip back to the tree farm with Dad for 75  more  trees.

With Christmas only a week or two away, the second load of trees disappeared as well and soon only two or three trees remained in our yard.

On Christmas Eve, there was only one tree left. Just before dark there was a knock at our front door. Outside, a man was standing on our front porch. Dad recognized him. He was a local elementary school teacher with several small children of his own. Because our town was so small, Dad knew he was unemployed too.

He asked Dad, “How much for the Christmas tree?” It was the only tree left on our lot. For several minutes, Dad tried over and over again to get him to take the tree for free. But despite Dads efforts,  and the man knowing that Dad was out of work, too, he insisted on paying for it.


Santa visited our house that year and my sisters and I had more than enough presents. I can’t tell you what gifts I received that year. And at the time, I had no idea that Dad had lost his job.

What I do remember is how much fun it was having our yard temporarily transformed into a winter playground filled with snow and hundreds of beautiful Christmas trees. I also remember how Dad, in between selling trees, had  turned part of our back yard into a small skating rink for my sisters and I.  He made trip after trip from the house for boiling water, carrying it out, one kettle at a time, and poured it out onto an area of snow he had smoothed out and turned into a rink, so that my sisters and I could skate in our back yard.

And I’ll never forget how both of my parents, working as a team, made sure that my sisters and I had one of the most beautiful and memorable Decembers I will never forget.



The Girl in the Cafe

I received a DM this morning  from one of you wonderful, amazing people. It touched me so, I asked him if I could share it.

Here it is:

I just wanted to say hi and maybe brighten your day. Let me tell you why…

One time I was in a little cafe on Christmas Eve and I saw a girl at a table in the corner looking at her phone…

She was crying. She was trying to hide it but she couldn’t. I saw this and it broke my heart.

I wanted to say something… Anything… But I didn’t. And to this day, I still regret it. That was probably 12 years ago.

So… I just wanted to say hi. And just know you’re not alone, even though you feel like you are. My thoughts are with you.

Merry Christmas.”

One short message from a stranger, can make someone’s day. This was simply too beautiful not to share.

Thank you, R. Xoxoxox

I took this photo of my daughter. She looked so sad. It seems fitting...

I took this photo of my daughter. She looked so sad. It seems fitting…

Pretty things

December 2012: One of the low points in my life. I had lost my job earlier that year and now it was almost Christmas.

I wanted to hide away from the world. Not only because of the embarrassment and shame that accompany hard times, but mostly to focus on getting my life back together.

I took my daughters to the Family Dollar Store to buy some packing tape. Possibly the most depressing store ever.

I found two kinds of tape. One was $2.99 and the other was $1. I joked to the clerk that I was too poor to afford the $2.99 roll as I paid for the $1 roll. After we left, my older daughter (who was only 10 at the time) said “Mommy! Don’t tell people we’re poor!” Clearly, I had embarrassed her.

A week earlier, I created an eBay account. Being out of work meant I had to start selling some personal things. In just one week I had sold two items. I was excited, until I got to the post office and spent $18 for postage on an item I had only charged a $3 shipping fee for. Live and learn.

As soon as I got home, I immediately readjusted the shipping fees on all my other items.

Which brings me to the rings. Years before, my ex-husband had given me a beautiful 3-stone engagement ring. One large center diamond, representing the present and two smaller diamonds on either side, representing the past and the future.  The other was a beautiful custom made engagement ring given to me by a man I dated for 4 years after my divorce. A beautiful 1.5 carat cushion cut diamond, surrounded by beaded diamonds and a diamond wedding band to match.  It was beautiful. I tried to return it to him after we broke up, but he insisted I keep it. Both gifts from men who had loved me at one time. Now gone, but with memories still attached.

I never imagined I would have to sell such things, but I never imagined a lot of the hard times I’ve faced in my life. Sometimes things just happen. Reluctantly, I posted both sets on eBay. The custom set alone was worth well over $5,500, but I asked for less than half.

Being new to eBay, I assumed no one would buy them, so I took them to a local jewelry store. The appraiser took all four rings (two diamond engagement rings, and two bands) to a room at the back of the store. A few minutes later, he returned and offered me only a small fraction of what they were worth. I knew his offer was unfair, but before I could think, I heard myself say “Okay.”

As I left, I suddenly felt sad. It wasn’t that I would miss the rings (I hadn’t worn them in years), but that each one had a string of memories attached. Like the warm spring day when my ex-husband got down on one knee to propose, and all I could think about was how corny he looked. (Maybe I’m just an awful person.)

Or the December day, when I was pregnant with my first daughter, and lost my engagement ring. We had been Christmas shopping all day. I never realized it was gone until after we’d returned home. We spent hours that evening, driving from store to store, retracing every step and scanning the parking lots, searching but never found it. The next day, on Christmas eve morning, I took the dog outside for a walk.  And there in the grass, reflecting in the morning sun was my ring.

Or the day my ex-boyfriend threw the ring box at me and said “Here. I got you something.”  A gorgeous engagement ring, custom made just for me and how he threw the box at me. So terribly romantic. Anyway…

I had always imagined passing my rings and all my other pretty things, down to my daughters. Not that I owned anything spectacular, but each piece had meaning.

And now they were gone. And that made me sad.

But when you’ve been unemployed for 6 months, and it’s 3 weeks before Christmas, diamond rings don’t seem all that important anymore. Not to me, anyway. I used the cash the man at the jewelry store had given me to buy Christmas presents for my girls.

Gifts for two deserving little girls who still believed in and were expecting the arrival of Santa? Or a few rings?

To me, the answer was obvious.

To most people, a ring is a symbol of everlasting love. But to me, a ring is simply another pretty thing that you can wear. Perhaps nothing more.

I’d give up a hundred rings to have just one person who won’t abandon me when things get tough. Someone who will always be there to support me, no matter what.

No material object – and certainly not any kind of ring – can ever replace that.

I’d rather have a man strong enough to hold me when it feels like my entire world is falling apart. Or when it feels like I’m falling apart.

I’d rather have the love and support of my best friend and lover holding my hand, every single day. Because rings and objects don’t mean anything when you’re alone.

In the end, all that really matters is having the people who you love, standing beside you.

And no piece of jewelry could ever be worth more than that.


Photo credit:

Photo credit:


Sex, Porn, Love

Sex, Porn, Love

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