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The Ent that Came to Christmas (c) Dragon on the Payroll Productions 2011

Ah, tis nearly that time of year again.  The Silly Season.  Decking the Halls and Fa-la-la-ing…and then there’s us…

Another first for Mr U and I occurred recently.  After the white Christmas tree of the last couple of years came out of storage looking decidedly cat-wee yellowed over 60% of itself last year, we made the executive decision to invest in a new one this year.   We discussed it, and my only real requirement was that it be a green one this time.  A white tree, whilst looking suitably North Pole-ian, really doesn’t put me in mind of Christmas.  But 6 foot sno-cones however…but I digress.

Old tree was sent to the old tree retirement landfill on dismantling in early January, and I’ve made a point of tootling about websites for much of the year, trying to keep a jump ahead on when the trees go on sale.  So, imagine my delight on reading of a tree available at our favourite grocery store, with 1000 tips for a princely sum of $49.95!  Whoot, in budget and lots of places to dangle balls from!    Note made of date of them going on sale, and anticipation was in the air for at least 48 hours before the trip into Tweed.   We learned a valuable lesson that day; if you want something that sounds really good for a good price, get there before store opening time.  We arrived around noon, and all the trees had sold out 3 hours earlier!  Clearly the Tweed Aldi doesn’t rate 1000 trees with 1000 tips for $49.95 or something, because to run out in 1 hour is pretty mind-boggling to me.  Lesson learned, small grocery re-stock continued with regardless.

Cue the search beginning for a tree, within a budget, that didn’t look like it needed intensive care and a warm blankie.  We stopped at a major chain store (who shall remain nameless) for a reccie when we noticed they had their tree display up.  We left pretty darn quick when the price for a half-way decent 6 foot faux pine came in at over $200.  Well outside the budget, and with car repairs, insurance, registration etc all due early in the new year we felt we couldn’t justify the cost.  Nice tree, but not so nice a price.  *insert sigh of frustration here*

One week later, and I’ve seen the TV promos for another major chain-store, in which they have a range of trees changing through the scene as the table setting, family and even the dog change to illustrate the range of items available.  Bushy-looking  green tree noted and lips pursed in thought.  Grocery run is in a few days, let’s take a looksee hey? 
The junk mail onslaught has begun too.  Flipping through a chain bargain store catalogue and lo, a tree that meets the 2 key criteria (bushy looking and green) that have been agreed on over the course of our recent forays and page flipping.  Grocery run is in a few days, let’s take a looksee hey?  The continuing saga.

Grocery day dawns bright, sunny and impending humid hot.  2 good things, one not so.  But hey, big shops and malls have the Goddess’ answer to the God’s bright ball in the sky – AIRCON!  And I have a loaded water bottle and ain’t afraid to use it!

Off to the bargain chain store first, as we can park right outside their door.  Once I’ve done 4 laps of a section of the undercover mall car park alongside.  Mr U was  joking about other drivers pitying him for taking me for a driving lesson at the mall on such a hot day by lap 3.   Park, exit car and enter store.   All hail aircon on entry!  Spot trees.  Raise eyebrows, and a hissed debate on the lacking merits of said trees.  Reminder of budget constraint.  Apologies exchanged for grump-outs.  Back out into the sunshine and back into the car (mental note to have aircon repaired in car formulated).

Back into the mall car park, this time to make a victory lap of the entire place to find a parking space.  After indulging the car’s wish to be a great white shark and hunt (for a parking space, not pedestrians, tempting though it was), we spot the perfect park.  I tersely instruct Mr U to “hold on!” and with a matching seagull-like chorus of “mine, mine, mine, mine!” we pull the great white shark into the spot.  Phew.  Water bottle moment required, and then into the mall proper.  All hail aircon (the sequel).   Now, I have to explain that neither Mr U nor I are mall-people by choice.  Too many people, too much cacophony and way too many yummy places at the food court.  We are more the surgical strike shoppers – get in, get what we came for and get to the chopper!

Into major chain store #2.  We surprise the store ‘greeter’ at the door by hoping she’s having a good day too, and with our tree-senses honed, we spot the tree display a few metres into the store.
“The animatronics aisle is OUT OF BOUNDS.”  says Mr U to me…as he proceeds to walk down it.  😀  Animatronic mayhem, they name is me!  Every singing Santa, dancing reindeer, jingling and glowing tree and snowman that macarenas later, (MWHAHAHAAAAA!)  Mr U points to the first tree box he sees – luckily for him, the staff and the other shoppers – in the very next aisle to the animatronics.  I look at the price, match the box details to a tree on the display and within 5 minutes we’re at the checkout, Mr U carrying the box and I waving my Flybuys and debit cards.  We have to get this tree out of the store before they realise they’ve made an error in the pricing!
Back to the great white shark, and the realisation that not only did we get the tree out of the store and the mall, we are going to have to plonk it in the back seat to fit our groceries in the boot (trunk for my American readers).  Easy done, let’s just get the flock outta here!
“Honey…we bought our first Christmas Tree together…” says Mr U, all romantic like.  I’m busy drinking water again but nod enthusiastically.

Grocery shopping is done in record time and under budget and it’s enroute home again.  Ooh, look, the new roadworks have done something to the usual route…oooh!  Up an overpass, and look, we’re in the right lane to head home from the get-go!  (It can’t last, but if it does, whoohoo!).  Home, immediate door open and run to the loo for Mrs Bird-Bladder who drinks too much water whilst out, and Mr U prioritises the shark unloading.  He’s fast, I get out of the little room and it’s all inside, with the tree box holding centre stage in the living room.  It didn’t take him long to give me his sweet little-boy smile and look hopeful, and before I could finish saying “What, now?” he had the box opened and tree-bits scattered all over the room.  Branches labelled A – J and a couple of poles that make up the trunk.  Looking good so far, and 1214 tips shouldn’t take long to tizzy up, right?  A few minutes later, Mr U declared in surprise as he collided with the ceiling fan;  “It didn’t look so big in the shop!”

Mr U has a hidden ‘macho man’ side.  It tends to come out at the most insane moments – like when he’s in too much of a hurry to get the tree’s metal stand out of its plastic baggie using scissors and instead uses the stand itself to force the plastic into breaking open.  Mr U very quickly learned that the tree was out to get him.  The metal stand broke the plastic and gave him a rather disconcerting knock across the face, resulting in a bump on the head and a fervent thanks for his glasses or he’d be short an eye about now.  All’s well after application of ice pack and some time uncrossing his eyes and letting the headache settle in properly.  Onward to branch tizzying!   Row 3 of the branches decided to get in on the ‘kill or maim the human’ and dived under his bare feet with their pointy metal ends.  All 8 of them.   Mr U can swear I discovered.  I don’t blame him though!

2 hours of tizzying and poking of branches later (whilst I tie threads on the new baubles and snowflakes and stars and stuff), we have a 7 foot Ent in our living room!
Now, where did I put the bauble cannon…AHA!  Load, aim, fire!
Mr U decides he wants to rearrange the lights in the Ent.  I have visions of having to spend another hour re-dangling the Ent’s balls, but how he did it I don’t know, and I’m not game to ask, but no re-dangling of balls required.

We have an Ent.  With balls.  And lights.  And snowflakes.  And a big golden star on its head.  And stars.  And Santas, teddy bears, reindeer, snowmen, cats and at least one Kiwi adorning it…and it’s only November 10th…