I’m kind of a scrooge. I don’t like all the commercial aspects of Christmas. I don’t like all the presents (though I still gratefully receive them) and the cookies and candies (although I still gladly indulge in them). I’m not really into all the Christmasy decorations and stuff.
In fact, this is how bad it is. The people we bought our house from left lights strewn on the fence and in the shrubs. All I have to do is plug them in. But it just doesn’t seem worth the effort.
If it were just up to me, we wouldn’t even have a Christmas tree. I just don’t care. But I do have a wife and kids, so it’s not up to me. But I do insist that if we are going to get a Christmas tree that it be an ugly one. You know, a sort of “Charlie Brown tree.”
The first year we decided to do this, we went to the tree lot and I asked the attendant for the ugliest Christmas tree they had.
“The ugliest?” he attempted to clarify, in obvious disbelief.
“Yep,” I replied. “Give me the ugliest tree you have.”
“Huh. Nobody’s ever asked that before,” he responded, still trying to make sense of the situation.
But as he and I were still talking, his associate accepted the challenge and set out in search of my tree. Shortly thereafter, he came back with two scraggly looking trees.
“How ‘bout one of these?” he asked.
Now these two trees weren’t pretty, but they weren’t ugly. “That’s all you got?” I asked back. “You’ve gotta have something uglier than that.”
The two men looked at each other as if they were sharing a long-kept secret. Then the man I had been talking to motioned with his head to the other and he quickly took off as on a mission.
He came back quickly with the ugliest, scraggliest, most-pathetic excuse for a tree I’d ever seen. It was about four feet tall with only five or six almost-bare branches.
“That’s what I’m talking about!” I exclaimed. “How much?”
“Ten dollars,” the associate responded.
“Ten dollars?!” I echoed back, showing my displeasure with the price. “I’ll give you five.”
The two men looked at each other the way people do when they know they’ve been outwitted by a superior opponent. But the smirks on their faces were replaced when the associate cursed in disgust while the other laughed in response.
“What?” I asked, not understanding the hidden situation.
Then the man who had retrieved the prize responded, “I bet him $10 we wouldn’t sell this thing. You’re paying me five, but now I owe him ten.”
That was the beginning of our ugly Christmas tree tradition 17 years ago.