Christmas Tree

Fiona, Heather and I went Christmas tree hunting yesterday. Now, one week before Christmas is on the late side for getting a tree, but not ridiculously so I thought. After all, it would be up until New Years so that’s a full two weeks of enjoyment. Apparently the modern mass market retailers disagree with me. I think they expected me to make such purchases the same time they started their holiday marketing push – sometime shortly after Labor Day if I recall.

Anyway – the tree sale put on by the Alexandria police department was done. No more trees there. Oh well, I would have liked to support them but we’ll just get one someplace else.

Next stop is the Apple House. This is a nice garden center type place near our house. It’s not a cheap place by any means, but I was willing to pay an extra $10 or whatever for the convenience. Fiona was a little sleepy/cranky so she and Heather went to look at the Poinsettias while I scouted the trees. I looked around to find the right size – something not too tall yet big enough to not look ridiculous in our living room. Finally I found one that called to me. Not too big, not too small. I don’t remember what type it was, something short needled. I look at the price tag. $190. I look again. It still says $190. I think that maybe that first digit is just some stray mark and that it is just a $90 tree – that I could believe maybe. So I look at the next tree over. It’s $160.

This is sort of akin to some episode of The Twilight Zone. You see, in the world I normally live in Christmas trees cost $45-$75. You expect to gripe about the cost and how trees used to and still should cost about $35 – but that’s just part of the experience. $190 is some strange version of reality that I wasn’t prepared to cope with. Heather, Fiona and I ran in fear, got into the car and drove off.

After stopping to pick up some milk for a sleepy Fiona we stopped at the Home Depot on S. Picket St. It was close by and we needed to buy a humidifier for Fiona’s room anyway. I walk in, and no Christmas trees. I don’t mean that the selection was picked over, I mean they weren’t selling any more trees. Unbelievable. Well, at least I found the humidifiers I wanted.

After a brief discussion on the cost/benefit ratio of continuing the search we trudged on down to the Lowes. After 20 minutes of annoying holiday traffic we finally arrive and you gussed it – no trees. It’s one week before Christmas – why the heck isn’t anyone selling trees for goodness sake!!

Fortunately, out in front of the Lowes plaza is an old out of business Chi Chi’s restaurant and some bunch of guys selling trees in the parking lot. Well hey, maybe at least I’ll get a free taco with my $190 tree. I walk up to the chainsaw-weilding guy and who asks if he can help me. I ask about prices, expecting to be stunned but also knowing that in the end I’d probably pay over $100 to get a tree for Fiona if I had too. The guy gestures to three different areas and says $45, $55 and $65. I feel like I’m part of the happy ending for some sappy, traditional, black and white Christmas movie from the 1940′s.

After the nice guy packages our tree in a sleeve of plastic mesh, we strap it to the top of our Subaru sleigh and head homewards. Later that evening with a fire in the fireplace and the radio tuned to the all-christmas-all-the-time-for-now station Heather and I setup the tree and covered it with lights and some ornaments. When Fiona woke from her nap Heather brought her downstairs while I manned the video camera. Her first reaction to the tree made all the efforts that day worthwhile.

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