“Bargain Basement Tree” By Chris Zito

Because my daughter Jessica’s birthday is December 19, we always held off on getting our Christmas tree until at least the 20th when she was growing up. There were certain advantages. The guys at the local parking lot tree sale were ready to haggle by then.

I used to get to these trees only days before the wood chipper.

Both of my grown children were born in December. When you become a father at nineteen, financial security is elusive at best. All right I’ll say it, we were broke. Constantly. So December, with two birthdays and Santa, let’s just say we were looking to cut corners. The kids would really get excited when they got to upgrade to second-hand clothes for back to school shopping.

We felt strongly we could get another season out of this.

We didn’t want Jessica’s birthday getting lost in all the Christmas hoopla so we purposely waited until late in December to decorate the house and get a tree. I quickly learned that as a fringe benefit of shopping late we could find some bargains. Bargains we desperately needed. It wasn’t long before I was really laying it on thick with these guys at the Christmas tree lots. I’d have both kids with me. We’d skip lunch and go in the middle of the afternoon.  This was sure to elicit at least one, “Daddy I’m hungry!” The tree guy never knew what hit him.

“Please, sir, may I have some more…of a discount?”

Some years we’d get a guy filled with the Christmas Spirit that could see I was a kid with kids and was happy to give me a break. Most years I’d just piss the guy off by insisting I wanted the tree but couldn’t possibly pay the asking price. If he wanted $30, I’d offer $25. If he wanted $20, I’d offer $15. “Come on,” I’d say. “In three more days, anything you have left you’re going to destroy. At least you’ll get something for this one.”
My favorite year was when the guy finally said, “Fine. Take it. Merry F&*cking Christmas!”
The kids, all of 7 and 3, recognized most of the phrase and happily replied, “Merry Christmas! HO! HO! HO!”

“And a Happy New Year, Asshole!”

Happy Birthday, Jessie. Raising kids is expensive but at least you saved me a small fortune in Christmas trees over the years.

Thanks for reading. Tell your pals.
Chris Zito


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