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Suburban Island

Christmas Tree Heaven
Sunday, Dec. 15, 2002, 5:40 p.m.

Question: What’s 7 foot tall and turns a million colors?

What Have I Learned? Never give up in the search for holiday greenery.

The live versus artificial debate is over.

Not having fully learned our Christmas-tree-purchasing lesson yesterday, we seemed doomed from the outset to repeat it at Kmart, Wal-Mart, and who knows where else today. Luckily, we did manage to get some inkling of our true chances of finding a blindingly beautiful fiber optic tree at one of our local discount stores from our exhaustive experience at Target the night before.

This time, we stopped at a specialty store first to check out our real options. The price tags looked like misprints - $499 for a tree here, $349 there – our reality check was taking a turn towards utter hopelessness. Still, we were determined and after a bit more frantic looking we were well rewarded. For there, nestled among this forest of high-priced artificial trees, was THE tree. We had found IT. The oversized fiber optic tree – just sitting there, twinkling away like it didn’t even recognize us. We were nervous as soon as we saw it and the price tag – which although not a discount house price was pretty good after they kicked in with a $50 store discount coupon.

Grab it. Just hold it and don’t let go. You there, fence off the perimeters. Hey kid, run and find the sales person. We must have this tree.

Of course, since this was not a discount house and it is not Christmas Eve, it turned out they had plenty on hand. Whew. We let go of the tree and shaking the cramps out of our hands, jumped into the car and down the street to Kmart. We just had to verify that our desire to pay a little more and stop all the madness was based on sound fiscal judgment. At Kmart we wandered around a fairly stripped down version of what must once a been a pretty nicely stocked Seasonal Department. Fiber-optic trees? In your dreams. Even the trees on display had signs on them saying they were sold. And as for the glimmer of the fiber optic – that wasn’t a sign that one had ever sparkled in their holiday line-up. With a hint of smugness and a sigh of relief that our work was almost done, we headed back over to buy our 7-foot piece of Christmas joy.

A few minutes later, the deal was done. As the burly shop assistant maneuvered the large box into our 4-door car – a minor Christmas miracle right there – I felt that all parties had gotten something from the deal. The kids and I got the big tree even though it cost a bit more than initially considered feasible. My husband took advantage of his window of opportunity and successfully accomplished the live-to-artificial-switch with no complaints. Something he had been unsuccessfully pursuing in our household for many years.

The new center of our family Christmas extravaganza is already set up in our family room and a little nest of presents is beginning to develop around it. It makes me feel a bit twinkly inside just seeing it in place and going about its Christmas-tree-business with such calm efficiency.

Now, if only I could follow suit.

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