There was no black Friday shopping at the mall growing up. We reserved that day for something a little more special. Every year on the day after Thanksgiving we would all head out to the Christmas tree farm to pick out that year's tree. Aside from the turkey, it was the most exciting thing about the Thanksgiving weekend. On the main highway (if you could call it a highway) going through town, there was a small sign indicating where to turn for the farm. Way back in a corner of a cow pasture, behind a small farmhouse you could see a patch of Christmas trees. No need for us to pull up to the farmhouse - we were regulars. There was a gate of sorts to get into the pasture - so one of us would always jump out of the truck, unlatch the gate and we'd drive through the pasture (avoiding the cows of course) and head straight to the patch of trees. All three of us would jump out and try to find the best tree - it was always a competition of sorts to see who could find the tree that made it home with us. At some point during the process, a rickety old truck would come driving through the pasture and the tree farmer would get out with his handsaw. The tree farmer was the grandfather of my brother's classmate, so we definitely had a tie to him - but it didn't matter, he always remembered us. He helped us cut the tree down and my dad would ask, "How much?". In 18 years, the price never changed. $20. My parents tell me the price still hasn't changed to this day.
Flash forward 10+ years to Big John's Christmas trees located down the road from the TB house. Similar to the farm from my childhood, Big John's is located just off the main highway. Except this is a real highway. And no cow pasture. Big John's is set up in the Kroger parking lot with a full out cash register and pre-chopped trees. Shipped all the way to us in the big city from small town South Carolina. The selection and ambiance weren't quite the same as I was used to, but we did select a mighty fine looking tree - no saw needed here. While this "tree farmer" hasn't known us for 20 years, he seemed nice enough and said he'd help us tie it to the car (no truck owners in this family). I was curiously watching how this would happen, since I wasn't exactly sure how this worked. How does one tie a tree to a car without messing up the tree? To my horror, the tree man ran the tree through a netting machine of sorts which bundled the tree up into a tight little package. TB assured me that our carefully picked tree would snap back into place as soon as we got it home and cut the wrapping off. I reluctantly agreed not to make a scene since no one else seemed to have a problem with the tree wrapping method. We were then directed to the cash register and asked if we had a coupon. A coupon? For a tree? Seemed like a weird question to me - why would we need a coupon for a $20 tree? Well. Perhaps when your tree isn't $20. I'm ashamed to admit how much we paid for the tree at Big John's - we'll just leave it at NOT $20.
During this whole process, I kept comparing my childhood Christmas tree buying experience with this year's and TB didn't quite understand my being perplexed by the whole process. All he could say is, "Well. You did grow up without shoes." Hmmm. Interesting point. I guess this is how people with shoes buy trees. I suppose I'd better get used to it. I like my shoes.
The "wrapped" up tree
The "unwrapped tree"