Wednesday, December 8, 2010


The kids and I went to get a Christmas tree this weekend. David stayed home because although Christmas comes but once a year, the Packers play but 16 times a year (regular season), and he was feeling a different type of holiday spirit. The Packers are borderline mediocre this year and David apparently needs to spend every minute of every game concentrating on propelling them to victory, otherwise they won't make the playoffs. His focus broke during the last minutes of the Atlanta game last week when he got up to throw a load of laundry in, allowing the Falcons to kick a last-minute field goal to win. He's not going to let that happen again.

We need a small tree because we have a small house. I planned on getting a better tree than last year, when the tree lot owner saw us assessing various options and pointed out the most stunted, saddest-looking spindly-trunked tree on the whole lot as a good one for us to buy. You know how the oldest trees, those several thousand-year old bristle cone pines in California, are small trees, all hunched over with gnarly little branches? The tree the lot owner was trying to foist on us was quite possibly one of those, older than the birth of Christ. But I was on to this guy. As if! I thought. He is trying to get us to buy the ugly puppy of the litter, but I am going to let Stella pick out the tree and she is going to pick out a much better specimen.

Guess which one tree we came home with.

I thought it might be fun this year to walk the 3/4 mile to the tree lot with the kids and pull the tree back in a sled. But you know how sometimes when you come up with what seems like an ambitious but do-able plan, there's some small part of your brain that retains a firm grasp on what is and isn't a good idea, and that part of your brain starts clearing its throat and shuffling its feet and then after all goes to hell, that part of your brain gets really annoying and goes on and on about how it KNEW this wasn't such a good idea from the get-go, but would you listen to it, noooooo? Well, that part of my brain was acting up when it heard of my plan to walk the tree back home, but I'm happy to say that part of my brain was wrong, as our trip went off without a hitch. Still, the current score is something like Pessimistic But Realistic Side of Brain: 998, My Plans and Schemes, 2.

The tree lot is in a block with a decent amount of blight, to which the tree lot makes its own contribution. Here is the sign in front of their business:

In case that sign wasn't clear enough, they made this additional sign, which they obviously spent a lot of time on, possibly as much as six or seven minutes.

Across the street from the tree lot there is a vacant lot that used to house a business called Grillz that sold jewel-studded enamel overlays for teeth. It didn't last long, possibly because it was located in a neighborhood full of people who have some alternative tendencies but also have disposable income, and if they had to make a list of the thousand things they would ever spend money on, diamond teeth would be #996, right after chocolates in the shape of Justin Bieber's face, but ahead of fleece-lined earwax removers. Bewejeled teeth are just ridiculous, unless you're Dr. Teeth who for a Muppet has some pretty serious sex appeal. (Although though rumor has it he's a heroin addict, so he probably also has some pretty serious sexual dysfunction. For a Muppet, anyway.)

On the way back from the tree lot, Stella was goofing around and I experienced a rite of passage held in common with every parent who has lived in northern climates: warning your kid not to put their tongue on anything cold. I was proud to join a tradition that goes back to the Bronze Age, when cave women warned their offspring not to lick the mastodon spear.

The tree is up now, and looks great. We're getting ready for Christmas, and I had hoped to do all my shopping at one store, but then it went out of business. No matter, I'll just have to find a new place to buy all my sparkly teeth gifts.

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