Thursday, December 8, 2005

It Sparkles Plenty!

By Cappy Hall Rearick

We put up our Christmas tree this weekend. Babe was determined to buy a pre-lighted artificial one this year, much to my chagrin. “Spray some of that canned Christmas stuff around. You’ll never miss the live tree,” he told me.
“Evergreen scented spray that smells like Lysol,” I told him, “can never replace the fragrance of fresh greens wafting throughout my house.”

I should say at this point that Babe does not have the capacity to turn down a bargain. He is driven. He can smell a good deal fifty miles away. Therefore, like a bird dog after a prey, Babe spent hour after hour online comparing prices and sizes and calculating shipping costs.

I stayed out of his way in the kitchen doing normal kitchen things (like cooking) until I heard him shout, “Eureka! I have found the perfect tree!”

It was at Costco and the price was better than any he had found. The problem was that we would have to drive to Jacksonville on Thanksgiving Saturday, and no sane person would go near a discount store the weekend following Turkey Day. (The operative word here is SANE.) The drive down there was akin to being bumper to bumper on the island causeway with a Category 5 hurricane bringing up the rear.

Babe’s thinking went like this: “Since there is a vaulted ceiling in the great room, a tall tree would show up better than a shorter one.” Last year, we had a live six-footer that looked so lonely and forlorn we left it up until after Valentine’s Day so it wouldn’t go to the tree shredder with an inferiority complex.
We arrived at Costco thankful that the crazed crowds of bargain hunters had not permanently removed any of our needed limbs. Once inside, Babe immediately saw the tree of his dreams.
“There it is,” he said breathlessly. “There’s our tree. Isn’t it beautiful?”

I looked up and up and up and up. “Babe, don’t you think it’s a wee bit tall?”

He stared at me as though I had been sampling the bourbon-laced eggnog again. “Of course it’s tall, but so is our ceiling. It’ll be perfect. Besides, we’ll save eighty bucks on shipping.”
I turbo sigh. “Whatever. Just buy the thing and let’s get out of here.” I glance behind him. “Hey, Babe … remember a while ago in the parking lot when you snuck into that space you thought was vacant?”

He nods his head, obviously more interested in gazing at Paul Bunyan’s Christmas tree.
“Well,” I whisper, “the woman who was patiently waiting on that space you stole is standing right behind you and … if looks could kill ...”

He spun around and came eyeball to eyeball with a woman shaped like a Humvee who was carrying a pocketbook the size of a BarkaLounger. Had she pulled out an AK-47 and started shooting up the place, I’d have been the only one in the store who saw it coming.

Babe turned back to me and whispered, “I’ll go pay for the tree while you bring the car around, okay?”

Five hours later we arrived back home with our new Christmas tree, packaged in two separate boxes each one equal to the size and weight of a Volkswagen. How the two of us managed to get both boxes upstairs, unloaded and assembled into one 12-foot tall tree, complete with 2,500 pre-strung lights, is a genuine fait accompli.
Even in my wildest dreams, I never pictured our great room looking like Rockefeller Center. Walking through without sunshades could cause permanent corneal damage. The dog keeps nosing around in search of a trunk on which she can hike up her leg. At any moment, I expect the Rockettes, skimpily dressed in Santa outfits, to form a chorus line and hike up their legs.

Heaven only knows how we will ever get that tree unassembled and put back in the boxes. The odds are good, however, that this tree will follow its predecessor and stick around for a while after the holidays … like maybe until Babe and I leave here to go live in a nursing home!

Oh Tannenbaum, Oh Tannenbaum, how incredibly tall your branches!