Oh, Christmas Tree
Okay, so I'm exaggerating a little, but not by much. When I was a kid, you could buy a Christmas tree for less than $20 (the ones the dinosaurs hadn't eaten, naturally). In fact, my parents grumbled bitterly if they had to spend a full $20, and it became holiday sport to try to find one with only one bare spot for $15 or less (the bare spot could go against the wall).
Nowadays, I live in the Seattle area, where it is yearround tradition to spend several times more on things than they could possibly be worth (need proof? Starbucks--home of the $3 cup of coffee--started right here), and where you can't even THINK about getting a Christmas tree for less than $50, and $80 or $90 is really the minimum for anything taller than the cats and more or less perky. Over $100 is not unusual at all. And you know, I'm all for getting completely and utterly screwed in order to bring home a temporary decoration that I will then throw out....but you really do have to draw a line somewhere. It's starting to feel a bit like when I bought my first car (and I use the term "car" quite loosely here, given that someone had sheared the bolts off the head gasket and replaced them with superglue....and I only WISH I'd made that up).
Me, walking onto a tree lot: "Hi, what do your Christmas trees cost?"
Sleazy Salesman: "Well, how much tree are you wanting to get into?"
Me: "What? How much tree? I don't know..5 or 6 feet? You know, a regular tree."
SS: "Yeah, but what kind of options you looking at?"
Me: "Options? What options? I just want a tree."
SS: "Are you gonna want branches on this tree?"
Me: "Branches? Of COURSE I want branches! What are you thinking?"
SS: "Okay, so you're wanting one of our higher end models. That'll cost you, of course, but I can see you're a discerning customer. What about pine needles? Do you want pine needles on the branches?"
Me: "Needles on the branches? Are you crazy? If they don't have needles, it's just be a bundle of sticks! Why would I buy a bundle of sticks?"
SS: "Well, now, some customers really enjoy our economy line of trees. Obviously, that isn't for you. Let's see...branches AND needles...yeah, you're talking luxury class."
Me: "LUXURY class? I just want a damned Christmas tree to hang damned ornaments on!!"
SS: "Oh, you want to hang ORNAMENTS on it. You didn't mention that. We'll need to look at the heavy duty line."
Me: "Heavy duty? I'm not going to hang bowling balls on it--just Christmas ornaments. You know, little baubles."
SS: "Are these ornaments heavier than, say, a post-it note?"
Me: "Well...yes. Of course they are."
SS: "Okay, yeah. You want the heavy duty, reinforced branches. I know it's tempting to cut costs now, but you'll regret it if you do. Those extra bucks won't seem so important once you have a living room full of ornaments and the kiddies are crying on Christmas morning because they can't find their presents..."
Me: "Okay, okay! Fine. A heavy duty tree. Now, what's this going to cost?"
SS: "Well, we're talking top of the line, here. But you know, I can save you a bit of money if you're not picky about color. Does it have to be green?"
Me: "Does it have to be....what?"
SS: "Green--you know. Green like grass. Because if it doesn't, I can get you into one of these brown ones over here for a great discount."
Me: "Brown? That's not just brown--it's freaking DEAD! You want me to pay money for a dead tree?"
SS: "Well, the brown line isn't for everyone. I understand what you're saying. Let's look at this little beauty over here. Multiple branches, lots of needles, and you could put at least three or four ornaments on this tree before it started to tip."
Me: "Look. I just. want. a Christmas tree. That's it. You know, a trunk, branches, needles, bark--that kind of tree?"
SS: "Wait-you want bark?"
And so it goes. So wish us luck. I'll try to remember the camera so you can share in the holiday joy of poor Mr. K laying on the cold ground to cut down a luxury, high-end Christmas tree.