Many years ago, when my son was 4 and I was struggling to make ends meet, I couldn't afford a tree for Christmas. I was so distraught, and felt like a failure not being able to get a tree for my precious boy. At that time there were no charities that gave out trees and gifts for the financially challenged, and I was way too proud to go to my parents for help.
On the evening of the 23rd, on my way home from work at a guest ranch in a small Wyoming town, the largest tumbleweed I had ever seen blew across the road in front of me. Inspiration fell upon me like the proverbial ton of bricks. I knew I had to have that tumbleweed! I pulled my pick-up over to the side of the road, and chased the tumbleweed to a snaggled end at a barbed wire fence. Wresting my prize from the fence, I realized the tumbleweed was a full 6 feet in diameter and at least 4 feet tall. After depositing my new found friend in the camper-covered bed of my old pick-up, I sped home.
Both the babysitter and my son looked at me as if I had lost my mind when I brought the giant ball of tangles into the house. I hurriedly paid the sitter, and fed my son dinner. After putting him to bed, I took the tumbleweed downstairs and spray-painted it gloss red. I left it to dry overnight.
Christmas Eve was usually a big day in my family and I wanted it to be good for my son too. After breakfast I brought the shiny, bright transformed tumbleweed upstairs to decorate it for our tree. I dropped little blinky lights into the glossy globe and handed my son a box of foil tinsle, which he proceeded to throw at the tumbleweed. He was ecstatic! What fun he had tossing the shiny, slick stuff at the tumbleweed, me, the cat, and even on the windowsills.
Laughing and playing and having fun, my son didn't know that we were really broke, and that Santa probably wouldn't make it to our house. The doorbell rang. I opened the door to find my dad standing there with several boxes of food and wrapped packages for us. My son ran excitedly to his beloved granddad, and pulled him to see the "Christmas weed" as he called it. Smiling and giggly my son gave his granddad a hand full of tinsle and showed him how to throw it. My dear dad turned to me with tears running down his face, and said he didn't realize how strapped we were, but was proud of me for finding something for my most loved son.
Now, many years later, we still talk of the "Christmas weed" and how it brought my son, my dad and me closer together. It's my fondest Christmas memory.
-- Submitted by Renee McCarty.