It's no secret to the three friends I have that the title quote comes from what I consider to be the most fun anyone can have over Christmas. If you haven't tried some traditional, family oriented Christmas activity, such as, oh, making a popcorn strand for the tree, while watching "Die Hard" you haven't truly experienced the holidays. Seriously, try it. I trimmed the tree while it was on this past Sunday evening. If the sights and sounds of a backlit Alan Rickman, hair artistically blowing in the breeze generated by the opening of the time locked door guarding the Holy Grail while the forth movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony swells triumphantly doesn't fill you with all the joys of the season well, you have no soul. This type of activity, my friends, is what Christmas is all about. The only thing that might make it better is if the terrorists had decided to take over Dean Jagger's Inn in Pinetree, Vermont and counted Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye among the hostages. Or would that be overkill?
This activity redeemed my week-end, which was punctuated with a birthday party (and not for Jesus either, what's up with this new trend of baking birthday cakes for Jesus, anyway? Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus...Um hello? I thought that was what Mass for for) and trying to obtain some Christmas spirit via a longed for tree. After the party debris was cleaned up Sunday morning (or at least shoved into the hall closet) the young'uns and I set out to obtain a little Christmas. Having discovered that the fine folks who run the local storage facility have double locked my storage door (as my husband forgot to pay them last month and now I'm looking down a two month bill AND Christmas is in a week and yet ANOTHER car payment is due) I had an idea.
I called the local Lowe's and said "okay, I have 11 boxes of laminate flooring that followed me home and the landlord won't let me keep it. I have no receipt, can I return it?" And, after no small amount of time on hold a woman came on the phone and said "well, if you have no receipt you'll have to take a merchandise credit". I'm good with that. We load the laminate boxes and strike out for Lowe's, making the list of all the things we need instead of flooring. Like a seat for the toilet. Don't ask.
Light Bulbs. Wood Glue. And a Christmas Tree, as ours is locked up in the aforementioned storage bin. And lights and half price ornaments, it IS, after all, less than a week until the Eve.
So we haul the laminate out of the car and wrestle it into Lowe's return center. Where the charming cashier informs me that I can NOT have a credit, he calls my FATHER as if I'm a recalcitrant six year old and informs him that I'm returning the floor and he's giving HIM his money back.
Had this been a blender I would have told him where to PUT his gift return policy and sold the damn thing on Craig's List. However, by this point, I would have left the flooring in the parking lot rather than load it into the car and bring it back. A word to the wise, btw...if you get, or give a gift from Lowe's and you already have one, do NOT return it to the store, put it on eBay. Unless you really want the giver to know you've returned the gift because Lowe's does NOT exchange gifts, they give the money back to the person who gave the gift to you. Thus managing to make both themselves and YOU look like dicks.
So we left Lowe's in search of a cheap Christmas tree. Because a cheap tree would be infinitely less expensive than coughing up two months of storage fees at once.
Two Home Depots and one near fistfight with a self-proclaimed "Christian" who saw my son holding the last Christmas tree in his hand and announced that he and his wife and his three children had ALL found the tree first even though there were no where in sight when we grabbed it because they had ALL wandered off en masse in search of a sales person and it was actually HIS tree because God loved HIM more than us and we just weren't very Christian like he was my older son physically dragged me from the parking lot where I was attempting to install the local "Christian" as a tree-topper.
Have you ever noticed that people who feel compelled to announce in loud voices to strangers in public places that they're "CHRISTIANS!!!!" are always trying to explain to the sad, uninformed and morally bankrupt public that what appears to be little more than selfishness, greed and bigotry is, in truth, a deep and abiding love of God and YOU'RE going to hell because you haven't properly acknowledged their intellectual superiority? But I digress...
After three private tree lots who were charging $80 and up for 5 foot trees (and with straight faces, too) we saw yet another lot. With a big sign that said "parking!" and an arrow pointing to the right. I turned. And stopped. I was faced with a parking lot the size of my living room and two cars already in it. I slowly backed out but my son pointed out a very pleasant Asian man waving me in to a parking place smack in the middle of the driveway. I was immediately overwhelmed with mistrust. Anyone that anxious to get me in was undoubtedly trying to hustle me into a solid gold 12 foot Noble Fir at double the price the local Church lot was selling them for and THAT was outrageous.
Well, it turns out that there, at the little hole in the wall plant center which had turned itself into a Christmas Tree sales lot with the nice Asian gentleman waving me in sort of like the guys at the driveways to the overpriced parking lots in Pasadena on New Year's Day do, we found nirvana. It was in the form of a 7 foot Douglas fir that actually CAME with the water bowl attached and gave us change back from our $50.
I dug a sheet out of the laundry bags that were still, conveniently, in the back of the car (see...all you people who look down your noses at my abysmal laundry habits, take note. Carrying around one's dirty sheets can save the paint job on your RED car) and the stud who carried the tree to the car for us happily spread it on the roof and then tied our tree snugly down upon it. The Home Depot, btw, was offering 15 ft of twine with which to tie your own tree to whatever you wished to tie it too. At one point I was damn near garroted by a cigar smoking elf who was paying no attention to the customers actually walking down the driveway. My son took the money and the tree tag to the shack where payments were being collected and said the nice Asian man who parked us was incredibly pleased we had found a tree and he wants to go there again next year. I'm good with that. My sinuses, however, beg to differ. They are NOT happy with the live tree.
And merrily we rolled down Riverside Drive, tree gaily blowing on the roof of the Cruiser.
Most of the ornaments are in storage too but I did find a Trader Joe's bag full of the stuff I had forgotten to pack away last year and that plus a trip to the local drug store for half price holiday trimmings (it IS, after all, less than a week to go) along with Encore's fortuitous scheduling of "Die Hard" made for a rather Christmasy Sunday evening at that.
Today I am taking a vacation day. The use of which is earmarked for the laundry (which is still in the back of the car), a few more sale ornaments and a hunt for a belt for the vacuum cleaner. The belt, of course, broke right after we brought the tree in as we were attempting to vacuum up the pine needles. Off the newly installed carpeting. The carpeting that was put in instead of the laminate.
And the circle is unbroken...