Forget about Black Friday deals. The weekend after Thanksgiving is all about making memories — just not the type of memories you hoped for.
Christmas-tree shopping goes like this…
You don a red sweater, put on your winter boots and fill up the thermos with hot cocoa. “Come on, guys,” you holler to your family. “Let’s pick out the perfect tree.”
The first lot you come to is a tragic affair in an abandoned parking lot. “We can do better,” you say with confidence. “I’m positive.”
The family piles back into the car and you turn on Christmas carols. “Maybe we should be bold and buy a flocked tree,” you suggest.
“What the flock?” asks a wise guy in the backseat.
“It’d be like the 1960s,” you say, “only without cigarette smoke.” With a mid-century modern vision in your head, you drive to the local nursery where you discover that flocked Christmas trees sell for $140, which is roughly twice your budget. Plus they smell weird. “New plan,” you say in a cheery voice. “Let’s go to Lowe’s.”
On the drive across town, you pass around the thermos of hot cocoa. The first person burns her tongue, the second person complains about germs, and the third person spills all over your car’s upholstery.
You take a deep breath and readjust your grip on the steering wheel.
Right when you pull into the Lowe’s parking lot, it begins to rain. It’s a good thing you brought your umbrella. Unfortunately, nobody else in your family planned for the weather. One of them is wearing short sleeves and another is in flip flops. So instead of wandering the rows selecting the perfect noble pine, your family grabs the first Douglas fir they see — without even unwrapping it from the netting.
The car ride home drowns in silence.
It takes all day for the tree to dry out in the garage before it can be dragged into the living room. Setting it upright in the iron stand tests the strength of your marriage. By the time the lights are strung, wine is a necessity.
When it’s finally time to decorate, it’s easy to know who put which ornament up, and where. One part of the tree is bottom-loaded with elementary-school memorabilia. Another section looks like a tweenager threw candy canes at it and called it good. Still, when the tree glows in your front window, you feel proud.
That night, when you climb the stairs to bed, you know deep in your heart that all of it was worth it: the tree, the lights, the car ride, the bickering and even the spilled hot cocoa. “This Christmas is going to be the best Christmas,” you think to yourself as you drift off to sleep.
Moments later, you hear a CRASH from the living room. You bolt out of bed.
Someone yell “Timber!” That Christmas tree is going down.
Jennifer Bardsley is author of the books “Genesis Girl” and “Damaged Goods.” Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal.
Author Jennifer Bardsley will be signing copies of her YA books from 2 to 4 p.m. on Dec. 16 at The Neverending Bookshop, 10123 Main Place No. 2, Bothell. Stop by the store to say “Hello” — and grab some cookies so that she doesn’t eat them all herself.