I was gnawing on a cold turkey leg over the sink Friday morning when my husband set the newspaper down and stated, “There’s a sale on artificial Christmas trees over at Hobby Mart!”
“There’s a sale on everything today,” I mumbled through a mouthful of meat. “It’s Black Friday!”
“I don’t care what color we need to wear to shop today,” my husband replied. “I think we need to get over to Hobby Mart and buy one of those trees!”
I have been fighting the idea of an artificial tree as long as I fought the idea of a dog (and we all know how that one turned out!). Since I moved out of the house at age eighteen, I’ve always had a real tree. Granted, some of the trees looked slightly worse than Charlie Brown’s tree in the holiday special A Charlie Brown Christmas, but nonetheless, I pushed on, spending cold night after cold night, year-after-year, jumping up and down in a futile attempt to stay warm in dark tree lots while choosing the perfect Christmas evergreen.
“Fake trees are easier!” friends would advise me as I tried to shove a seven-foot tree in the three-foot trunk of my compact car.
“You can set it up as early as Thanksgiving weekend!” they’d yell as they watched me put water in the tree stand for the fifth time that night.
“Just think of all the money you’ll save!” they’d whisper in my ear as I lay on the floor of my apartment with a tree with a crooked trunk that had been precariously screwed into my tree stand and fallen on top of me as I walked by.
“They even have evergreen tree fragrance spray now!” they would yell over the sound of my vacuum as I sucked up thousands of dead needles every day during December, and then enjoyed the smell of pine every time I vacuumed until mid-July.
But alas, they never convinced me. It would take fifteen years of listening to my husband say, “THIS IS THE LAST … AND I MEAN LAST … YEAR I AM HAULING A TREE IN AND OUT OF THIS HOUSE IN SUB-ZERO TEMPERATURES!” before I would give in.
So, off we went to the store on BLACK Friday to look at fake trees. I stood in front of the display with my arms folded and noted matter-of-factly, “These look fake.”
My husband shook his head in disgust, “That’s because they ARE fake!”
I pointed to each tree and walked down the aisle. “Fake … fake … even more fake … and the fakest one yet!”
And then, there it was. A beautiful FAKE tree. I gazed lovingly at all nine feet of it as it towered in front of me. “Now, THIS is a tree!” I exclaimed. I swear I heard angels sing, but then I realized it was my husband singing, “Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, HA, HAAAAAAA!”
We paid for the tree and the store clerk brought it out to our car on a hand cart. He lifted it into the car as if it didn’t weigh a thing.
“Now, this is easy!” my husband chortled as we pulled in our driveway. “I LOVE fake trees!” he sang.
We opened the trunk. “One, two … and LIFT!” my husband said as he grabbed one end. My face turned red; his face turned red. I broke a blood vessel; he ripped the rear end out of his jeans.
“I’m … going to … DROP IT!” I yelled as the box slammed down on his toe. His face turned a lovely shade of purple as he jumped up and down while holding his foot.
“How much does this box weigh?” I gasped.
“TOO MUCH!” he shouted as he limped over to the box. “I’ll get it alone this time,” he said. “One, two … OH GOD, I THINK I THREW MY BACK OUT!” he grunted as he slowly knelt on the pavement.
“If only we had a pet donkey instead of a pet dog,” I grumbled as I dragged the box to the front door. “I bet HE could pull this damn thing in the house and I bet he’s potty trained too!” I stared at my husband who was lying in the fetal position on the driveway. “Can you crawl over here and open the door?”
After a few more minutes, we did finally manage to get the tree in the house, assembled, and decorated. It looks just as beautiful as it did in Hobby Mart’s display window.
I’m sure going to miss the smell of evergreen coming out of my vacuum cleaner bag this July though.