Katherine burst through the door with her arms full of boxes and her cheeks red from the cold.
Jack stood up from the couch. “What’s all this, Ace?” He took a precariously leaning box from the top of her stack.
“Christmas decorations!” She said. She put the boxes down with a clatter and took off her coat. “I bought us some candles and a few red balls—I like red better than silver, don’t you—and gathered some old things from my parents’ house.”
Jack lifted the top off the box he was holding. “This...this the one from your folks’ place?”
“Yeah,” Kat sat down on the floor of their little apartment. “Put it down; let’s look at it.”
Jack set the box down and plopped down next to his wife.
“Nativity is on top, I think.” She rustled around and pulled out Mary and Joseph and animals carved in various shades of polished wood. “This isn’t my favorite one, but Mama insisted on keeping the good ones at her house, and she gave Esther one as a wedding gift.” She set up the Nativity on the rug beside her, like a little girl playing with dolls.
“‘Ere’s baby Jesus,” Jack offered, holding the figure between his thumb and fingers.
The pile grew as Katherine unpacked a shallow box of fragile silver ornaments and long strands of itchy garland. (“But we’ll want some more, I think, for the fireplace.” Kat said.)
“Ah, I remember making these.” Katherine carefully unwrapped a bundle of tissue paper, revealing a hastily painted red ceramic heart.
“Helen.” Jack read the inscription. Kat unwrapped another—a white one that said Esther.
“I should let my sisters have theirs,” Katherine set them aside. “But where is mine?” She pulled out a couple more ceramic rocking horses and angels and mittens. Most of them had obviously been made by Katherine and her sisters as little kids.
“Found it!” Kat unwrapped another heart.
“Jeez, Kat, how many Christmas trees did you have?”
“Just the big tall one in the parlor, usually.” She said. “But Helen and I liked making the ornaments. Mama would let us decorate the backside however we wanted. The rest of the tree was just candles and red and silver balls. Sometimes popcorn. It had to be perfect, except for our little corner.” She chuckled and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. “What about you?”
Jack snorted. “Kitten, I ain’t never had a Christmas tree in my life.”
“My folks weren’t gonna spend their hard earned money on something that was just gonna make a mess and die,” he said. “Not everyone’s got maids and butlers.” His parents had worked themselves to death as it was.
“I know,” Kat said. She reached for his hand. “Did you all do anything for Christmas?”
“Did my Irish Catholic parents celebrate Christmas?” He smiled. “Of course we did.” He didn’t tell her that it was getting harder to remember when his family was alive.
“And now that wes married,” he squeezed her hand. “We can makes our own traditions. However we wants.”
“Right!” Kat said, grinning.
Jack gingerly moved a bundle of ornaments from his lap and stood up. “Now, where do we need ta go to get us a tree?”