|One of my favorite non-tree ornaments.|
Each year as I pull out the ornaments for our Christmas tree, I smile when I come upon a yellowed receipt from the old Hechinger hardware store.
The fading numbers tell a story that has become a Kress family legend, a tale of persistence, wisdom and one amazing deal.
It was Dec. 21, 1998, and the sun had long since set. (I know this because the receipt reads: 12/21/1998 19:35:53.)
As happens to many parents of young children, we still weren’t quite ready for all things Christmas that year.
So it came to pass, with just a few nights to go, we piled the kids in the car and took off in search of a Christmas tree.
Our first stop was a traditional one: a local firehouse that sold trees as a fund-raiser. Sadly, we found their doors shut; no tree to be had.
Next we tried a local high school that had sold trees in the past. Again, no luck.
On we drove to a nearby produce store, known for bounteous supplies of all things green. Alas, they, too, were closed.
Feeling a bit desperate, we assured our son, 11, and daughter, 8, that indeed, a tree would be found.
I can’t remember who thought of Hechinger’s, but that’s where we headed next. During the drive over we heard these wise words from our son in the back seat:
“Maybe next year we shouldn’t wait so long to get the tree.”
Ah, yes. That does sound like a plan.
The good news was that Hechinger’s doors were open, and they did have Christmas trees for sale. We found a small pine that spoke to us (“Take me home!”), and I heaved a sigh of relief.
While my family headed to the car with our tree, I went in to pay. The sign above the tree said $3 plus some cents. I figured it was the price per foot, and did the math: 5-foot tree, $3 plus … roughly $20. Not bad at all.
The cashier rang up the sale and said:
“That’ll be $2.65.”
“What?” I said, a bit confused. “Are you sure?”
“Yes. They’re on sale.”
That little Scotch pine (again, the receipt fills in the details) served us well, and we happily decked it together in time for Christmas.
Days later, I noticed an odd green/blue tinge on some of the branches. On closer inspection I could see that it was paint. As in spray paint. Apparently our evergreen needed a little help to live up to its name. (And who among us doesn’t, now and then?)
So there you have our most excellent Christmas tree adventure. Such is the stuff of family legend, a story told and retold fondly.
And worth so much more than $2.65.