Last year, Babe got it into his head to buy a pre-lighted artificial Christmas tree.
“They’re much better than live trees, he said, “and they don’t leave needles all over the floor."
“There’s no substitute for fresh greens,” I pouted. He rolled his eyes.
I know Babe loves me, but he loves a good buy even more. Bargain driven, he can sniff one out from fifty miles away. Babe went whole hog into bird dog mode so that he and Mr. Google could go hunting. I shook my head and disappeared into the kitchen.
My hands were buried in a bowl of fruitcake batter when he shouted, “Great Jumping Jingle Bells! I’ve found it!”
Costco had the best price but we would need to drive down to Jacksonville on Black Friday when no sane person can be found anywhere near a big box store. He didn’t care.
He insisted we go together, the island causeway gridlock notwithstanding. A Category 5 hurricane evacuation would have gone more smoothly. “The traffic’s terrible. Let’s just buy a live tree like we’ve done every other year,” I whined.
He rolled his eyes again. “Not big enough.”
“Babe, we’re not the couple living in the White House.”
He said our 18 feet tall vaulted ceiling required an extra tall tree. “Last year,” he reminded me with a snide, know-it-all expression on his face, “you bought a piddly little six-foot live tree that looked like it had been in a war zone.”
He was right. The tree looked so pitiful and forlorn that we left it up until after Valentine’s Day so it wouldn’t go to the shredder with an inferiority complex.
As soon as we got inside Cosco, Babe spied his prey. “There it is,” he said breathlessly. “Our tree. Is it magnificent or what?”
I looked up and up and up. “It’s too tall, Babe. How will we ever get an angel up there?”
He stared at me like I had been sampling bourbon-laced eggnog. “While it is true that it is tall, I am sure it will fit perfectly in the middle of our living room. Besides, if we buy it today, we’ll save eighty bucks on shipping.”
I turbo sigh. “Woohoo. Just buy the thing and let’s get out of here.” I glanced behind him. “Babe, do you remember when we were outside in the parking lot and you snuck the car into that parking space you said had your name on it?”
He nodded his head, obviously more interested in gazing at Paul Bunyan’s answer to Fa-La-La than any discussion about parking lots.
“Well,” I whispered, “the woman who was patiently waiting on the space you stole is standing right behind you now, and she is not ho-ho-ho-ing.”
He spun around and came nose to nose with a woman shaped like a Humvee who was toting a pocketbook the size of a BarkaLounger. If she had pulled out an AK-47 and started shooting, I would have been the only one in the store to see it coming.
Babe turned to me and whispered, “I’ll pay for the tree. You drive the getaway car.”
Five hours later we arrived home with our direct from China Christmas tree in two boxes, each one equal to the size and weight of a Volkswagen. We somehow managed to get them unboxed and assembled into one 16-foot tall tree, complete with 2,500 pre-strung lights. Our chiropractor is our new BFF.
When finally the tree was up and plugged in, the living room lit up enough to cause corneal damage. Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree has never been so bright. If the Rockettes had popped in for some liquid holiday cheer, I wouldn’t have been surprised.
We had a few chilly nights during the holidays so we doused all the lamps and got up close and personal with those 2,500 Chinese Christmas tree lights. Andy Williams crooned sappy songs while we pretended we were in Rockefeller Center sipping hot buttered rum and watching the skaters. I snuggled close to Babe in a genuine Kumbaya moment and before long felt the spirit of Christmas down to my toes.
“Admit it,” Babe touted. “Artificial trees are better than live ones.” He was about to add, Didn’t I tell you?
Before he could form the words, I said, “We’ll talk about it in January after the electric bill for those 2,500 lights arrives. Meanwhile, I should make another batch of bourbon eggnog. When the Rockettes show up, they’ll be plenty thirsty.”
Merry Christmas Y’all!
~~Cappy Hall Rearick
Cappy is a columnist, humorist and is the author a dozen books, including the novel, The Road to Hell is Seldom Seen. She has stories in several editions of the Not Your Mother's Book series and she writes regularly for Writer Beat, After Fifty Living, and others. Check out her website: www.simplysoutherncappy.com