Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Our First Christmas Tree

We were married in the summer of 1969, right after Dan's graduation from college, and then we returned to Abilene so that I could finish up my degree in elementary education. You might remember, from my post about my dear friend Chris, that we were living in the rear part of a house that had been divided into two apartments. We rented that apartment, furnished, from old Mr. Riggs, for $65 a month. From that you might assume, correctly, that we were living quite frugally in those days.

So, as Christmas approached, we decided not to travel, but to stay home and celebrate the holidays together as a newlywed couple. We waited until just a couple days before Christmas to get our tree. We went to a Christmas tree lot, off of South First Street in Abilene, that was advertising trees for 50 cents/foot. The trees were seriously picked over, but we found one that seemed just right for us; the tag tied to the top of the tree said 5-feet.

Dan carried our tree over to the fellow who was keeping the cash box. He looked tired, grumpy and cold - it was almost closing time, and he was probably wishing he were home with his own family on this windy December night. He took a look at the tree's tag, and said, "That'll be $2.00." Now I wasn't a math major, but even I knew that a 5-foot tree at 50 cents a foot came to $2.50, not $2.00. So I said, trying to be an honest customer, "I thought it was 50 cents a foot."

The man screwed up his face, threw his hands in the air, as if he'd had all he could take of last-minute tree shoppers trying to get bargain prices on a Christmas tree, and said, "Okay. Okay. $1.50!"

As I recall, Dan paid the $1.50 and left a dollar tip. I remember hoping that the tip might help restore this man's faith in mankind - or at least brighten up his evening a little.

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