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  Updated 1-2-08

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rocking Around the Christmas Tree

By Cappy Hall Rearick

Last year Babe had his heart set on buying a pre-lit, artificial Christmas tree. Me? I fancied one that was real and smelled good.

"Chopping down live trees is the reason for global warming," he countered. "Buy a can of pine spray and sniff to your heart's content. We're going green."

"That stuff smells like Lysol," I argued. "Babe, the missing fragrance is not my only objection. Artificial trees are UN-Christmassy. A real tree with needles that fall off during the night has a traditional flavor. Like eating Claxton fruitcake."

"I'm sick and tired of untangling lights and spending hours stringing them on a dying tree, but you wouldn't know anything about that, would you? What with me being the solo light stringer. As for fruitcake," he added with a smirk, "Let's not go there."

I know when I'm licked, so I threw up my hands and left to buy a dozen cans of pine scent, while Babe probed plastic, pre-lit Christmas tree sites on the Net. He is a world-class bargain hunter. I'm pretty sure his mouth was pre-set for haggling at birth. He, with the assistance of Mr. Google, searched obsessively for the lazy man's Christmas tree, packing in more hours than it took me to give birth to two children.

I've learned how to become invisible when Babe goes on a Google gambit, and like most women, there's no better place to vanish than in the kitchen. Three days passed before I heard him shout, "Jumping Jingle Bells! I found it!"

"Thank you, Jesus," I muttered. There was just one catch, he said: It was eighty miles away.

"We'll go Friday after Thanksgiving," he declared.

"Rational people," I responded, "would rather pull out every hair on their head, one-by-one, than to shop the day after Thanksgiving."

"It's a great price. You can't beat it," he reminded me ten times within ten minutes. The spiked eggnog I drank when I vanished into the kitchen must have had more of a kick than I realized because I caved. Again.

The traffic was awful, which validated my claim that only seriously insane people travel eighty miles to buy an artificial Christmas tree before the Thanksgiving meal has been fully digested.

"Babe, the Rotary Club is selling lovely live trees two blocks away. You could haggle yourself into the mother of all bargains." He pretended to be deaf. "It'll be a mad house in Jacksonville with bargain shoppers out in full force. They can get real mean."

He shook his head. "Nuh uh. They're home hogging down turkey sandwiches." He shot me a look. "I am buying a pre-lit artificial tree, and I don't care if it harelips you. Farmed Christmas trees don't grow tall enough."

"For heavens sake, Babe. How tall a tree do you want?"

"Tall enough to touch the ceiling," he said as though it made perfect sense. "It should match the room."

"Babe, that's just crazy. The ceiling is seventeen feet tall."

"Crazy? You wanna hear crazy? Last year," he sneered, "that midget tree you insisted we buy was little more than a stunted bush. The grower was obviously a smoker. It looked ridiculous in the living room."

He was right. It looked perfect at the tree farm, but our vaulted ceiling dwarfed it. It looked so pitiful we left it up till after Valentine's Day so it wouldn't go to the tree shredder with a complex.

After finally arriving at the crowded discount store, and wading through a gaggle of early Christmas shoppers, Babe found the tree in question. You'd have thought he'd discovered the Holy Grail.

"There's our tree," he said breathlessly. "Wow!"

I looked up, up, and up. "Kinda tal, isn't it? No way to put an angel on top."

He gave me a grinch look. "I've got a ladder. Stop nitpicking and think of the eighty bucks we're saving on shipping. Think what we'll save by not buying a tree every year."

I looked around. "Are we on Deal or No Deal? Where's the hidden camera?"

"That's not even remotely funny," he replied.

"Whatever you say, Scrooge. Just buy it and let's get out of here." I glanced behind him. "Hey Babe," I lowered my voice. "You know that parking space you snuck into? The one you thought was vacant?"

He nodded, although mesmerized by the giant tree, obviously more interested in Paul Bunyan's answer to Fa-la-la than hearing about parking spots.

"The woman," I whispered, "who was waiting on the space you stole is standing behind you, and she's definitely not in a Christmassy mood."

He turned and locked eyes with a Humvee-shaped woman clutching a pocketbook the size of a BarkaLounger. Had she whipped an AK-47 out of that purse and shot up the place, I'd have been the only one to see it coming.

Babe spun back around and hissed at me, "I'll pay for the tree. You drive the getaway car."

Hours later, we toted our new Christmas tree, packaged in two boxes the size and weight of a Volkswagen, into the house. Only our chiropractor knows for sure how we managed to assemble a 16-foot tree pre-strung with 2,500 lights. Suffice it to say that he is our new best friend.

When at last the tree was all lit up, the living room was bright enough to cause severe corneal damage. It looked like Rockefeller Center in December. I halfway expected skimpily-clad Rockettes to pop up and start kicking.

On a few chilly nights, however, we doused the lamps and cuddled up close and personal with 2,500 sparkling lights. While Andy Williams sang in the background, it wasn't much of a stretch to imagine we were sipping eggnog at Rockefeller Center as snowflakes fell around us and ice skaters glided around the rink. Snuggling closer to Babe, I felt warm, fuzzy and doggone it I even felt Christmassy.

"So, what do you think about a pre-lit tree now," Babe asked. "A great bargain, right?"

"Honey, let's discuss it after the December electric bill for those 2,500 lights arrives. In the meantime, hand me those sunshades and pour more eggnog. I expect the Rockettes to show up any time now, and they'll be thirsty."

Copyright 2007 Cappy Hall Rearick

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Before writing humor columns, Cappy Hall Rearick, proudly held the title of Miss Wikipedia. Her crown was snatched away and given to a real uppity Yankee when, after much hemming and hawing, Cappy failed to pronounce the word Wikipedia.

Cappy writes two humor columns and has authored three books. You can visit her website at www.simplysoutherncappy.com