OK, I buckled.
But with all that’s happened lately, the family really needed some cheering up.
Last year at about this time, my wife had traveled down ahead of us to be by her mother, who had cancer. When she knew that the end would come soon, she asked me to drive down to California with the kids to see their grandmother one last time. So we had Thanksgiving dinner on the road at a Denny’s somewhere in Oregon, and arrived in time to say goodbye. After we returned home, my wife made a Thanksgiving dinner for us all, but it wasn’t the same. So we promised that this year would be different.
Then my wife broke her leg. She still can’t walk around on it, so we decided that instead of her gloriously delicious all-day-to-prepare homemade stuffed turkey, we would have to order a turkey from the local market. It won’t be the same, but it will be a damn sight better than what I could do.
So as I said, we needed cheering up.
I really despise the Christmas hype that now precedes Thanksgiving. And I don’t care for artificial Christmas trees. But for several years now my wife has had allergic reactions to real trees, so we decided that this year we would buy a large artificial tree instead. The biggest and prettiest that we could find for a decent price. And to avoid the traffic, we would get it before Thanksgiving. I’m sorry, but we really needed cheering up.
We looked online to find the perfect tree. Instead of having it delivered, we wanted to pick it up at a local retailer to save on shipping.
Have I mentioned that I despise Walmart? My general opinion of the franchise is that it represents the lowest common denominator in retail: only the products in the greatest demand (the universal, bland taste), shovel-fed to the human herd by employees who fall somewhere between slaves and cult-followers. But they had the right tree: a nine-foot Vienna Pine, pre-lit (clear lights only). At about one-third the price of less desirable trees from Costco or anywhere else.
My wife wanted to see it in person before we bought it, so we loaded her in the van with the wheelchair and the children and headed for Walmart. Imagine navigating the Walmart crowds with a wheelchair. Do you know how many Walmart shoppers don’t think anything about running into a splinted leg that is elevated in a wheelchair? But we found the tree, and it met with her approval. Mission accomplished.
As we drove home, I retched to picture myself from the perspective of a younger me. Driving a van home. With a fake Christmas tree. From Walmart. On the weekend before Thanksgiving.
Then my daughter started making up lyrics to Christmas carols:
Rudolph the brown-nosed reindeer…
(unable to finish due to laughter). When she finally caught her breath, she made another attempt:
Deck the halls with evil scientists
Cheering up accomplished.