Tumble Weed Christmas


I took a short drive down to Kansas yesterday to purchase some fabric; I’m making quilts for the grand kids for Christmas. However, I am finding that home-made isn’t necessarily less expensive than store bought. Yet, I create. It’s what I do.

As I drifted along the smooth, nearly vacant highway (passing a mix of about 20 cars and trucks over a 30 mile stretch—yeah, that’s my kind of traffic), I took in the wide expanse of dry hills, sparse tufts of green winter wheat, leaf-barren skeleton-limb trees, and an abandoned dwelling tucked on the edge of a curve of dirt, nearly hidden from sight.  A clear view for 15 miles, ending where the sky met gray shadows of farms tucked in behind dense windbreaks.  Some might call it desolate, I call it peaceful. Ahhhopen land away from the city. The best kind of place.

From the corner of my eye I spotted it, poised to dart across my path… ghost-like, stripped bare of foliage… one of my stand-ins for a Christmas tree in earlier years: a tumble weed.

Tumbling, bouncing, unsure of it’s path, a blast out of nowhere, lifted up and tossed by the wind, disappearing over the hill and down into a dry canyon stream bed.

It was my first Christmas after having left my former husband that previous June. Six months without my children. I was in the midst of trying to figure out who I was: no longer ‘wife’, and for all practical purposes, no longer ‘mother’.  I was lonely, lost, and a pure mess. Living in a basement apartment that never really warmed up, sitting on a decrepit couch that had held who knows what on it before, and hearing the upstairs renters making noise on purpose.  It was a far cry from what I was used to before, and it was depressing. I would come home from work, unlock the back door, and descend into the dark depths of my life. Having not yet found God, it was a struggle just to get up and go to work and come back home. That was the extent of what I was able to accomplish, and it took a huge amount of mental fortitude.

It was time to find a Christmas tree. I was being frugal, I was being tight. Somehow, the Tumble Weed Tree showed up. I don’t remember where I found it, but when I did, I knew it would do the trick. My little Charlie Brown Christmas Tree was going to grace my basement home. I doubt if I put it in a container of water–there was no need–after all, it was already dead.



I bought a short string of lights and a Hallmark Christmas ornament: Snoopy wearing ice skates with Woodstock grasping his hat. And since this was that great season of joyfulness, my Mother, my good, good mom, (gone now for eleven years) sent me a few ornaments: a small fabric mitten with a $1 bill inside–I’ve never had the heart to spend it– and an odd assortment of craft show ornaments. That was it. Bring on the cheer!  Let the festivities begin!  :(

I made it through that Christmas with a mixture of sadness, grief, and even relief. No more being hit, screamed at and belittled, but also no more children to put to bed at night, or make sure they had brushed their teeth, or had their home work done. No washing their clothing, or baking cookies for, taking to appointments or activities. No children to laugh with or hug or kiss.

By the grace of God, I survived. I see it’s been 22 and a half years since that tumble weed tree crossed my path… or was it just yesterday?