Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Karma or the year I stole a Christmas tree...

This is my favorite don't mess with karma Christmas tree story.
More than a decade ago, when I was living in my parent's house and enjoying Christmas eve dinner, my mother looked at my brother and I and said "Are you two going to get a Christmas tree or what?"
"Yes," I said. "I guess we better get going, it's after seven."
We had done this many times before, gone to get a last minute Christmas tree on Christmas eve- haggled on the price of the tree. My mother prided herself on getting nice ones for $10 after she wore down the guy selling them. Poor guy just wanted to go home, it was Christmas eve. I kind of felt sorry for him, but we liked getting a good deal. My mother handed us $20 and told us to get a nice one. Neither one of us is as good as my mother at this, she is the master haggler but she was not going to go this year.
My brother and I bundled up and headed out into the cold and decided to go to the fairly close by Boy Scout lot. When we arrived, we found it cold and dark and completely deserted! Oh no!
But they left the trees, big, huge lush beautiful Christmas trees!
My brother and I took one look at each other, knowing what we were going to do. We were going to steal a Christmas tree. The conversation went something like this:
"Okay, we can NOT tell Mom we did this."
"Agreed. That means we can get a nice one, but not too nice."
"Yeah, if it's too big or too nice, she'll be suspicious. She'll never believe we got it for $20."
We then began the careful process of selecting a tree. I have to say, we were very restrained about our choice but we got a really full and nice one. It was a nice little Christmas miracle.
My mother was immediately suspicious but my three kids were thrilled to spend the rest of the evening decorating this really cool tree! We almost never got a tree that nice. Bargain basement last minute trees were our forte! Not exactly Charlie Brown Christmas trees but we usually got the unwanted ones that were marked down or the seller was willing to let go of cheaply.
My brother and I managed to deal with our guilty secret until New Year's when my mother got the truth out of us. Mother's always know, don't they? I think she was more amused than anything but her job is to be outraged at the pseudo theft. It's not really stealing a tree when it's lying there all free and ready to be loaded into a car. I mean, those trees were just waiting for good homes. Those Boy Scouts had done a charitable thing, leaving us those trees. And I'm sure my brother and I put the twenty bucks to good use... okay, maybe we had lousy fast food but I digress...
The following year, I had similarly procrastinated getting a Christmas tree only I was invited to the annual Blueberry Hill Christmas eve employee party as John's guest. This party no longer exists but back in the day, the place closed at five and the staff ate, drank and was merry til very late in the evening.
That year, I was pregnant with Marissa, about four months, not really showing yet and definitely the designated driver for John who took the drinking and being merry part very seriously.
I had not even bothered to try to get a Christmas tree earlier that evening because I was planning on a late night heist of the Boy Scout Christmas tree lot. I was so confident that I would get a great tree, I didn't even look at the time we left Blueberry Hill and I think it was close to 2 AM when I finally insisted to my very, very, very drunk boyfriend that it was time to leave.
John and I were not yet living together, we didn't cohabit until after Marissa was born- so he asked me to take him home.
"Just help me get a Christmas tree first, it won't take long!"
"What? Are you crazy? Everything is closed."
"I know. I'm going to go take one of the leftovers."
"You want me to go with you to steal a Christmas tree? No way, take me home."
I tried to convince him that I was pregnant and he needed to help me and my kids would be really bummed out if there was no tree on Christmas morning. His response was to pass out in the front seat. Great.
So, I drove to the Boy Scout lot- and it was completely deserted. Not even a pine needle remained! It was as if there wasn't even a lot there to begin with. I completely panicked. I started driving around, trying to remember where other lots might be. Stupid, stupid, what was I thinking? I began to pray for a Christmas miracle. Not that I deserved one, premeditating a tree theft and all. I knew this was bad. I had mocked the miracle of last year...
I finally remembered there had been this lot we used to go to a few miles away and I drove up there- hoping against hope and- score! There were Christmas trees, everywhere all over the place, an abandoned lot with a ton of trees lying all over the place. I was so relieved. I nudged John, trying to get him up. He made some sleepy noises and began snoring loudly.
"Get up and help me get this Christmas tree."
He mumbled something about not being an evil Santa and resumed snoring. So, I did what I had to do. I got my pregnant ass out of my Mazda hatchback and began looking for a good tree and soon discovered- the horror.
I guess the people who ran this lot had no charity in their heart, no spirit of giving- when it was time to close, the Grinch came to work and brought a chainsaw, cutting off all the tops of the trees! NOOOO! I stood there, stunned. I had to make a decision. I either took one of these pathetic trees, brought it home with me or there would be no tree for those three kids with the little shining faces waiting for Santa to come. I had no choice. It was 3 am, I still had an hour of decorating and wrapping and placing presents under the tree. My parents were probably wondering what the hell I was doing. Usually this was done by midnight. I'm sure they were already dreaming nice dreams of not having any more minor children.
I could not fail the kids. I picked the least straggly tree I could find and stuffed it in the car. John wouldn't even wake up and help me decorate. I dropped his drunk ass off at his mother's house and went home to salvage what I could of this Christmas nightmare.
I fell asleep on the living room couch around 5:30 am, thinking, the kids won't care that the tree is kind of crappy, they will be like those Who's down in Whoville and be singing Christmas carols and all, it won't matter that the tree is ugly and misshapen and has it's top lopped off. I had tried to cover it up with a nice angel...well, I did the best I could.
I awoke to my oldest son staring down at me on the couch.
"What the heck is that, Mom?"
"Merry Christmas, honey! Mommy got you a tree!"
"That's the ugliest tree I've ever seen! Why'd you get that one? You couldn't get us a good one?"
My daughter looked up at me with her little face. "Mommy, were we bad this year?"
"It was either this or no tree. That was all they had left." I tried to explain.
"You should have left it in the lot, Mom," my son said.
Humph. Ungrateful. I thought. But you know, seriously, that was the last time I ever premeditated stealing a tree. Christmas tree karma is a bitch. Don't mess with it!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I liked the story. Wondering though, why be out all night on Christmas Eve? Won’t that make you crabby the next morning for your kids Christmas? Maybe that’s another side of Christmas Karma.

Not sure about saying the lot had “no charity” or “spirit of giving”. If they left the trees in good condition, look what happens. People come along and take them or just see them there. The next year they don’t even bother to buy a tree, they just wait ‘till Christmas Eve to steel one.

VanessaMRR said...

Sometimes sarcasm or tongue in cheek doesn't translate well- but the whole "spirit of giving" remark was a tongue in cheek joke. Of course I understand the business concept. It was a joke!
Honestly, though, I really think that they should give those trees to needy families on Christmas eve- there is a lovely story in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" about the Christmas eve tree toss with the leftover trees that did not get bought!