My first Christmas knowing Steve was a sad one. My father wasn't speaking to me, the boys were spending their first Christmas with their dad and the Christmas tree died. In an effort to keep things as festive as possible I purchased a real tree like we normally did. But no one told me to shave off the bottom of the tree. You think I would have noticed that it wasn't requiring much water but I had other things on my mind. Little by little the needles turned brown and slopped. The decorations were sliding right off. I had to take it down before the all important day.
As I was packing up the ornaments I noticed in the box an empty pack of Steve's cigarettes. I decided to leave it in there, thinking, "I wonder if when I unpack this box next year and come across the empty pack if Steve will still be in my life?". We'd only been seeing each other a couple months at that time.
That was a long time ago. Every year since then when I come across the empty pack I smile and give it a special place on the tree. Someday I'll get into the ornament box and I'll have the empty pack and Steve won't be in my life. It will be because of that pack and many more like it that contributed to his cancer. Maybe I should toss it.