Ordinarily, I'm ready for Christmas by the end of October, but I couldn't control the weather this year and I had to keep my Mom alive a little longer. Oh, and then I signed up for Iron Noder. I'm not blaming any of these things, just giving some background.
So the plan yesterday was to go over to my mother's and finish putting up her Christmas lights, then do some local shopping. My younger son had finished exams the day before, had seen the girlfriend, so he was cheerful. I had procured a dead tree and I mean dead. The church I am affiliated with sells Christmas trees, with proceeds going to various missions we support. In the past I've made soup for the workers; I've been one of the workers.
It's satisfying and freezing, but you get fresh air and make people happy and I have a backlog of stories I could tell.This year I waited too long; drove up to the church and saw empty racks, one drooping wreath and a pile of greens, lopped off the trees. I looked at the greens and thought, I can make a tree out of these, maybe. I went inside and talked with the church secretary, a long time friend, and told her I needed a tree. She said they're all gone, but poke around the pile, you never know, the sale's over so whatever you want is free. So I went back out and poked around the pile of greens; sure enough, a $60 tree at the bottom. I pulled it out; it was muddy and the back one-fourth of the top had no needles on the branches. Perfect, I said to no one. I dragged it to my car, scraping it along the brick sidewalk, past the workmen, and even though it looked like rain I took the convertible top down in my old Miata, sat the tree in the passenger seat, and drove home. In that short amount of time, the sun had come out, so I grabbed a pair of pruning shears and merrily trimmed away the deadest parts. Bonsai!
Back to the plan yesterday afternoon. We drive over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house. She has no idea we are coming, but is delighted to see us. We start finding extension cords and the guys decide among themselves who is doing what. The younger son wants to decorate a bush by the driveway edge and the mailbox. The older son wants the gigantic evergreen. My mother has a special pole but fully extended it only reaches a little more than halfway up the tree. She is not good at estimating amounts of anything, but purchased two new boxes of 350 lights each. After stringing the first box, my son is concerned. So I head out into the garage where you never know what treasures you'll find. Lo and behold! The angels are singing! I find a large box labeled "outdoor Christmas lights". Knowing my mother, I'm cautiously happy and go inside to test them before rejoicing too much. Saints preserve us, seven strings of lights!! Out of the seven, five work for the most part. I take them out into the now very dark front yard. I divvy up the lights, and the elves continue working. Neighbors out walking their dogs or just walking make cheerful comments. The large evergreen lights are up as high as humanly possible, even with the 6ft. elf and the pole, so I get the bright idea to drive the Jeep on the front lawn up to the tree, then have one of the guys stand on the roof of the car and get the rest of the lights up to the top of the tree. (This is probably not recommended in homeschooling manuals, but I'm a firm believer in using what you have and we had no ladder with us.) My mother is slightly worried my son's car will get stuck; my son is slightly worried there will be ruts and ripped up grass. They both decide to just do it. The happy ending happens. There are just the right amount of lights; the car doesn't get stuck; and my mother's house looks great. As for the last minute shopping we had planned on doing, that fell off the list, as we warmed up with an odd assortment of snacks and laughs then headed over to my daughter's house to not go shopping there either.
I hope the lesson learned was sometimes your presence is more important than your presents.