It was April and the Christmas tree glittered in the corner of the living room. In the master bedroom my mom sat surrounded by text books, my brother and his best friend played video games, and half a world away my dad was stationed on an aircraft carrier receiving hazard pay.
A false evergreen, plastic fake, colored lights popping in and out of existence. The ornaments of my childhood caught, exposed, and then released in the glare. Grandfather Cal had shipped them to us in Spain, mailed them to Goose Creek and Summerville, sent them down to Oklahoma City. Each year one for my brother and I, until the tree hung heavy with our accumulated years.
It crossed my mind that I should be helpful, wrap the ornaments in tissue and pack them into the Christmas themed tins to be stored in the attic. But at sixteen, with a full tank of gas in the Honda sitting in the driveway, I managed to find more pressing things to do with my time.
We joked that we'd decorate it for Easter; hang hand painted eggs and perch a stuffed bunny where the angel sat, fresh carrots would droop from the branches.
When my dad had a few days leave and money for a plane ticket home we put it on the back porch and pretended it wasn't there.
My mom graduated at the top of her class. Again and again her name was called as they passed out awards and accolades, her face lit up from the inside like a Christmas tree.