Our First Christmas

Our first Christmas after our wedding found us in Arkansas where Vince was stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base. Our railroad style apartment was in North Little Rock in a four unit building. We were dirt poor but wanted to celebrate Christmas like we both had back at our families’ homes. That meant at least a tree with all the trimmings. We soon found all we could afford was one string of lights. No tree. No ornaments. Just lights.

Vince proved the hero of the day when he appeared at our apartment door one afternoon with a real pine tree. I was aghast when he told me he had driven out into the countryside and “chopped” down a pine tree with my butcher knife. I thought he was lucky he didn’t get shot. My poor butcher knife was never the same. I thought it the most wonderful tree in the world. I’m certain I rewarded him suitably for such heroics.
Immediately I set to work making decorations for our grand tree. I colored and cut out paper ornaments. We strung popcorn for garland and then splurged and bought tinsel. That weekend we spent a very romantic evening decorating it while we listened to Christmas music. The only photo I could find shows not only that I was a poor photographer but that the tree had a few large gaps between the branches. That green thing bottom right is a green net tree I sewed. I still have it and a few of the original ornaments from our first tree.

Something else I did to decorate was use Glass Wax Stencils. These were heavily waxed, hence waterproof, stencils which I stenciled onto windows and mirrors using Glass Wax window cleaner. The cleaner dried white—to the left is the mirror above the fake fireplace in our apartment in N. Little Rock. When I rubbed the stencil off after Christmas I had the bonus of a clean mirror. I still have the stencils and continue to use them.

Vince surprised me by arranging for us to go “home” to Kansas on Christmas Eve. The photo at the top (we are sooooo young!) was taken at my parents’ house that first Christmas. The gift from Vince is a watch. But gifts weren’t necessary. The previous year he had been overseas serving in what is now called the Vietnam Conflict. This first Christmas we were together; we were married. We had a gorgeous tree, gorgeous because it and its decorations reflected our love for one another. We now have forty two years of ornaments and garland and Vince always does a spectacular job decorating the tree, but none ever meant as much as the one we had on our First Christmas.

What are some of your First Christmas memories? First Christmas away from home. First married. There are a lot of different firsts Christmases. Share some. Merry Christmas!


Anonymous said...


What a heartwarming story of your first Christmas together.

So glad you still have some of the decorations,and of course pictures.

Congratulations on 40+ years together.

Wishing you many,more years to celebrate together.

Merry Christmas & Best Wishes for the New Year.

Patty H.

Pat Davids said...

What a wonderful story, Joan. Thank you for sharing it with us. I love how the holidays are made special by the simple things and by our love.

Joan Vincent said...

Thanks for stopping by Patty. Glad you enjoyed it. I went around the house today stencilling Santa's and snowflakes, angels and stars. Have a great New Year too!

Joan Vincent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joan Vincent said...

Things from the heart always touch us the most. Your story earlier this month demonstrated that, too.

One year Vince and I made cedar chests (without the cedar lining)for the girls (6th grade and freshman in high school) and refinished a trunk for our son (8th grade). It was a wild two months until Christmas day as we despartely tried (successfully)to keep our handiwork secret. There were near moments of discovery which sent our hearts racing. I still remember the excitement of Christmas morning. It probably was the only Christmas Vince and I got up before the kids. We couldn't wait for them to see their trunks set before the tree with big bows on the lids.

I didn't know what I was going to write until I read your story. You opened a treasure trove of memories for me. Many blessings to you Pat.

Reese Mobley said...

Joan, what a great story. One to be treasured that's for sure.
Merry Christmas, dear friend.

Joan Vincent said...

Merry Christmas to you too, Reese. It's been wonderful strolling through Christmas memories since I wrote this.

Starla Kaye said...

Thanks for sharing your first Chrismas with us. As much as I love writing/publishing Christmas stories each year, I love even more hearing about "real" people and their holiday memories.

Nina Sipes said...

Joan, look at the love on your husband's face in that picture. He wanted to give you that watch. That's quite a story and that you still have parts of it to duplicate when you wish is so wonderful. You're a lucky couple.

Anonymous said...

Dad looks like a high school kid in that picture! We have our stenctils up too this year. Merry Christmas Mom!

Penny Rader said...

What a great post, Joan, and I love the pics, too. Thanks for sharing your Christmas memories.