Sunday, December 20, 2009

Why Do I Do This?

Christmas is swiftly approaching…like a runaway sleigh driven by a drunken fat man in red velvet pajamas and a surely reindeer with deep emotional scars riding shotgun. Oh sure, it’s wonderful this time of year. There’s all that forced holiday glee out there clogging up the daily works with low carb saccharine good cheer. Every shopping mall and discount store around has turned into a financial black hole with the gravitational mass of a government bailout, complete with ill tempered bell ringers just short of their next medication dose. The other day at Safeway I had to sneak around to the little side entrance in order to avoid Darla from the Hell’s Angels Bell Ringers Brigade. I was afraid she might hunt me down in the cereal isle and kill me with a rice crispy treat if I didn’t donate. I had already given my last dollar to her cell mate across the street at the Les Swab tire store. I wasn’t taking a chance on that one. An ill timed blowout during I-5 rush hour traffic could really put a crimp in my shopping schedule. Ol’ Scooter there indicated he might puncture a tire with one of his tongue piercings if so inclined. Frankly I have no idea how he managed to smoke that cigar when he couldn’t even close his lips. He might have given that some thought before having all the hardware installed. I considered offering this bit of observation though only briefly. In the end I opted to spend the holidays outside of the hospital and stuffed a dollar bill into his Bud Light can. It was decorated with tinsel, very festive.

Inside the grocery store my senses were violently assaulted. Apparently some alien life form is Tara forming the planet into one giant cinnamon stick by taking over all the grocery and craft stores on the planet. I believe their plans for world domination are nearly complete. My throat closed up as my eyes began to water and I nearly bumped into Sledge, the inside the door bell ringer. He deflected me onto the poinsettias and Christmas Cds next to the singing Santa’s on Harleys. This worked out great because I needed to pick up a copy of White Snake Christmas and Hip Hop Holidays In The Hood. I tossed them into my cart and proceeded onto the crack in a candy coating isle. I needed to pick up some sugar coated sugar pops in syrup and then some broccoli with a marshmallow topping for dinner. I already had the candy cane shavings for the turkey.
…I don’t know why my teeth hurt right now.

Anyway, I had to hurry up with my shopping if I was going to make it to the tree farm before all the good ones were gone. After some searching I found the end of the checkout line back by the restrooms and employee entrance. It was moving right along though. They had two whole cashiers on duty and only one of them was in training. I heard through the grapevine that the bag boy had gone out to help a customer and hour ago and hadn’t been seen since. That was fine by me. We had a pretty good game of five card stud going on with the deli guys and he cheated anyway. Some one had to wake Mrs. Rosen every time the line moved but other than that it went pretty smoothly. Well, there was that scuffle up by the Stouffers Stuffing but, they patched it up after a few counseling sessions and were on good terms by the time they got to the canned goods isle. Eventually we made it up to the cashier where we exchanged email addresses and said our goodbyes. Bob owes me twenty bucks for that last hand.

I steeled myself to face Darla the belligerent bell ringer on my way out but luckily her parole officer was giving her a break for some personal business. Something about peeing into a cup she said. I slipped out into the untainted cool night air and gave thanks that the cinnamon Tara forming aliens had not made it outside yet. I was anxious to get on to the joyful task of selecting our holiday tree. Apparently it is no longer called a Christmas tree but rather the more ambiguous Holiday Tree. While I am sure this random renaming has its roots in good intentions it is woefully lacking in its grasp on reality. Like it or not it’s Christmas and we aren’t all running around buying Holiday Trees on Memorial day or Halloween. Nor are we opening Labor day presents and sending out Fourth of July cards. Nope. It’s Christmas and no amount of frosty aluminum
winter-scaping at the airport is going to erase that. Besides what would we do with all the AC/DC Christmas Cds if that happened?

Having escaped the parking lot with my limbs intact and a cart full of potential New Year’s resolutions I headed back home. The outdoor Christmas decorations had been put up earlier and they glowed cheerily from their position on the front porch-- where they lay in a tangled lump of holiday frustration and despair. Soon the Saint and I were headed off to the non denominational holiday tree sanctuary or as I like to call it, the Christmas Tree Farm!
It is a family owned farm and has been in the family since 1886. The current patriarch is a local horse vet. He enjoys growing specialty hay for the horses. His daughter and her husband handle the tree sales. One summer they planted a cutting flower garden in one of the fields and just put out a cash box on the honor system. This year they tried out pumpkins and they are working on developing their own raspberry/blackberry jam recipe. I have two test jars in my refrigerator.
The Saint and I arrived during daylight hours. It took us about five minutes to pick the tree out but our guy is a talker so by the time we got the tree tied onto the car the sun had been down for over an hour. I am pretty sure that I know more about this guy and his family than I know about my own. I even know where he’s having lunch most days downtown and what he likes for desert at night. I liked him immensely.

Since it was too dark and well past the Saint’s bedtime when we got home we set the mammoth tree outside for the night. The next day the tree would meet its fate.

This is the Saint’s beloved chainsaw with which he will give the tree a fresh cut. He uses this thing at every opportunity and one day I am just certain that I will find him using it to carve a mermaid or maybe a black bear holding a roll of toilet paper. Apparently it is an affliction that strikes people who live in the Northwest near a lot of trees. All you have to do is drive down some country highway to see that it is quite an epidemic. Its worse than heroin apparently and I’m keeping a close eye on him. First sign of fin or fur texture on the firewood and he’s getting an intervention.

Once we got the fresh cut it was time to bring that sweet smelling pretty into the house. This is the part of the process that usually shreds 80% of the needles off leaving the remaining 20% to dump on the floor. Right about this time as we are trying to shove the 6 foot wide base through the single sized door I am wondering just what in the world possess perfectly sane people to drag a needle dropping mass of foliage into the house. I have to rearrange my furniture and empty the vacuum cleaner bag repeatedly while picking needles out of the Berber carpet. Then I have to water it every day because not only is it slowly dying I plan to put fire starting twinkly lights all over the thing and then rig them together with a questionable power strip. I won’t stop there though. No. I’ll drag out boxes of old goofy things that have no other purpose in life than to sit forgotten in the garage all year gathering spiders and moisture. And then I’ll put those little fire starter materials that a boy scout lost in the woods would give his eye teeth for on that tree. A 7+ foot tree sitting in my modest sized living room taking up the space of an entire sofa. A tree covered in knickknacks that I haven’t seen in a year and I will wonder what in world are we thinking? What a ridiculous thing to do…

...and then I will flip that switch and I will know exactly what we were thinking. And I will wonder how we ever managed to live without this beautiful symbol of hope and joy.
But come January 3rd, hope and joy is going right back out the door and reason and sanity is back in!
In the meantime, pass the eggnog, and put another log on the fire. I got me some happy time to enjoy!



  1. I've been wondering where you are, now I know. How neat to be able to go to a Christmas tree farm and pick your tree. They are trucked down here and cost a fortune. I do LOVE their smell though, and get close for a good dose of that glorious scent as we go in and out of the grocery store.

    Your tree is beautiful! I also love the way the room changes when I flip the switch to turn on the lights. It makes my heart feel glad and thankful.

    Thanks again for another tale.

    Have a wonderful Christmas and a great new year.


  2. Halarious! Now that's a tree! We went into the back 40 for ours and it's got a distinct crook up it's spine, which shows more after - as you say - we squeezed it through the door and it lost most of it's needles. But you must do your shopping way earlier! Avoid the stress. Then go to the mall to laugh at people. More fun.

  3. It felt like I was along with you (though I waited outside when you were in the grocery store) on this venture of picking your Christmas tree. I imagine it must be enchanting siting in your living room. You truly have brought a part of the forest inside.The village people must think your giant tree quite grand! Beautiful! Happy Winter Solstice Le San! Merry Christmas week too! Carol

  4. LOL! I don't ever want to go shopping where you go ;-) I wonder if the ,money I do give ever will make it to the organization it is meant for with the judge handing out sentences to be paid by volunteering. What are they thinking.The commercialism sometimes just wears you out and ruins the meaning anymore.
    On the bright side your massive, room size tree looks beautiful along with your CHRISTMAS decor.
    Merry Christmas to you and the Saint LeSan.

  5. Another great story.
    You're right about all the PC that we put up with. Crazy, huh?
    Your CHRISTMAS tree is beautiful.
    Merry Christmas to you.

  6. Hello LeSan,

    Your stories are so funny, yet so true...especially about grocery store visits this time of year. Your Christmas tree is beautiful!

  7. Lesan, you had me laughing out loud here. Your tree looks gorgeous (as I knew it would.)

    But, I must ask. Why is it that the people in your snow village do not seem in the least alarmed at the presence of sixty foot nutcrackers?

  8. Yikes, I'm leaving my Christmas grocery shopping until Weds when I will finally have time to do it. Guess I should bring along some cash and a folding chair for the line.
    It is a lot of work getting set up for Christmas, but I agree it sure is worth it. The tree makes the whole house look and smell better. I love your tree and village!

  9. I'm with you on the cinnamon issue. Massive headaches.

    Merry Christmas!

  10. I love your tree! Have a great Christmas!

  11. HI LeSan,
    I am still alive and kicking, and your blog is one I cannot resist, even when I am supposed to be on a blogging hiatus.
    Thanks for the entertaining post, it made me smile!
    Merry Christmas! Love your Christmas tree, very magical!

  12. Perhaps thankfully I'm allergic, and therefore put up the probably-made-in-China tree. Your narrative always has me laughing. Unless of course I'm crying. You have such a way with words. Compelling, thought-provoking. I find myself loving you by the time it comes to comment! Happy, okay, for you I'll say Merry Christmas.

  13. thank you for your wonderful comments on my blog. YOUR stories however blow mine away!! I'd much prefer to come play with you in the store (tho I know not how to play cards but can drink me some beers while I watch!)
    do y'all have the people that stand on the corners of busy streets and highways asking for 'a little help God Bless'? Now there's something to think about...

  14. And a pert and merry "Merry Christmas" to you, too! I love the picture in my mind of the 6' tree squeezing through the regular door.
    I am putting my house back together. It is 'done enough' for now, we will take a break for Christmas, and be happy that we don't have much left to do after Christmas; lay the floor in the office, paint the bedroom, rip out the bathroom, take in 2 extra feet that we allotted from the remodel of the office, and replace all the fixtures in that bathroom. I hate doing bathrooms.....but, I am looking forward to having a nice bathroom.

    I have baked 16 loaves of bread this morning, finished my shopping, and I am going to rest a little while before we go out to dinner this evening. I think I will fix a cup of hot tea and relax. I am not putting up a tree this year. I hate to have to take it all down and put it away after Christmas. I am ready by then to get in the garden.

  15. LeSan, I just followed you on your festive shopping. Your tree is huge and you have done a good job decorating it. Frankly speaking, I have never seen a decorated real Christmas Tree, only fake ones. Now, let me wish you a Very Merry Merry Christmas!

  16. You have had me in stitches here Lesan :) Wishing you happiness and peace at Christmas and in the new year! See you on the other side.

  17. Very funny post, and I needed a laugh about now. I hope you and yours have a great Christmas.

    Always Growing

  18. FLOWERLADY~ I know I have simply evaporated with the scent of Christmas cookies on the wind. Blogging is still pretty new to me and I don’t think I was at all prepared for the holiday intrusions. Thank you for the compliment on our Christmas tree. I managed to show a great bit of restraint on the tree this year. I have wanted to keep to a simple palette for several trees in a row but could never hold back from throwing everything we own onto the poor thing. Restraint was the big surprise this year. LOL

    TERRY LYNN~ We don’t have a back forty but there is a back six. There however is a serious lack of viable Christmas trees. Getting one of those inside would require hmm…raising the roof, a good forty feet. You know we actually don’t do our shopping early but rather late. We celebrate the gift giving of Christmas on the First. So this week is the big shopping week for us. Sneaky huh? Heehee And mall laughing is really a year round sport don’t you think?

    CAROL~ I wish I had the sense to wait outside with you at the grocery store. You made the better choice to be sure. Bringing the outdoors in is one of my favorite elements of Christmas. If I could live outside all year I think I would do so. Of course in the end I am pretty big baby about being warm and dry. Thank you for coming by for such a nice holiday visit Carol.

    LONA @HOCKING HILLS~ I know what you mean about those little doubts that creep into your mind. I do understand how there are costs for the administration of such things but…some of those guys can scare the daylights out of you. Thank you for your holiday wishes!

    PATCHWORK~ Nothing warms the heart and soul like a PC Christmas. Of course that’s an oxymoron. It would be something more like a PC Holiday. Oddly enough that makes me think of PVC pipe and then that could wind up being quite entertaining. We could soon be wishing one another a very PVC Holiday.

    AZPLANTLADY~ Thank you Noelle. The grocery stores before a big holiday dinner require a strong constitution to survive. Not to mention a well packed lunch and folding chairs.

    HIGHLY IRRITABLE~ Jeni you had the Saint and I laughing ourselves silly with that question. We looked back at the photos and sure enough sixty foot nutcrackers. Upon closer inspection of the little people you could clearly see the fear on their tiny faces. I suppose the period of alarm has passed through to sheer terror. Funny how I missed that.

    CATHERINE~ I am glad to hear that you planned ahead for your trip to the grocery store. The set up while a lot of work is worth it and certainly a lot more fun than the take down. That part is always a melancholy affair. Then again it does mean I get the living room back and spring is all that much closer. Thank you very much for the compliment!

  19. EILEEN ASTELS WATSON~ My husband hates the cinnamon scented stuff. I don’t mind it so much but they really do seem like they are trying to kill you with it. I am sorry to hear that it gives you headaches. Those chemically induced headaches are just awful. It must be very challenging for you every holiday when they put this stuff in every store entrance. It’s a wonder you ever do any shopping at this time of year. Bravo for online shopping.

    SUE @ CORNER GARDENER~ Thank you Sue for your holiday wishes. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas too!

    ROSEY POLLEN~ Thank you so much for sneaking out of hibernation for me Rosey. I should have taken a cue from you and just announced a time out during the holidays. I guess I’m too new to blogging to have known better. Oops. Next time I watch you and follow your lead. Smart girl!

    BRENDA @ COZY LITTLE HOUSE~ Really? Allergic? Bummer. Forgive me I am completely ignorant on this but…does that cause you grief if you go into a pine forest? I am very fortunate in that I don’t have outdoor allergies. You certainly don’t need a needle dropping tree to make your home beautiful. You have a wonderful talent for creating great warmth and charm with anything you lay your hands on. Thank you so very much for touching my heart with your kind and loving words. They are a gift to me.

    ROBIN~ I would be more than happy to have you hanging out with me in the store playing cards. I don’t suppose you happen to be “expressive” when you drink? I could use some help. Hehe And yes, we definitely do have folks on the corners. I wonder that there is a city or town that doesn’t anymore.
    Thank you very much for reading and enjoying my little stories. I have been enjoying your stories very much. I love the charming stories of the animals and the one on your father was very moving. I can still see his smiling face because of your words.

    JANIE~ I always think it wonderful to visit friends homes around the holidays to see their decorations and enjoy their vision of childhood joy. You. Not so much. I’m would be afraid of finding a paintbrush of hammer stuffed into my hand instead of a cup of eggnog. LOL I hope you made a lot of progress and are happily seeing the fruits of all your hard work. I have to tell you I got tired just reading your comment- WOW. You are a powerhouse for sure. You put me to shame woman!

    AUTUMN BELLE~ You have shown me so many things that I have never seen and I am very grateful for that. I don’t suppose a “fake” tree and a “real” one are that much different. At least not their meaning and final beauty.

    ANNA~ I am so glad you were smiling when you read this. I had some fun writing it. Though it might have been better if I had needed to actually make stuff up.
    Heheh ;-) Yes Anna, See you on the other side! What a charming sentiment. I really like it.