“There are no Christmas trees to be had anywhere,” I said to Robin, after prospecting Wal-mart, City Market, and Safeway the day after Thanksgiving.
That didn’t stop Robin from meticulously decorating the house with Christmas cutesies and the familiar ornaments I admire every year come December, even the potpourri bowl got a shot of redolent red holiday entanglements that smell like . . . frankincense and myrrh. I suppose. Delicate frosted glass snowmen adorn the entertainment center, their outstretched arms and mouths agape lend the impression of carolers. Not to be up staged are the Santas; fat Santas, flat Santas, wooden Santas, tea kettle Santas, action figure Santas cavorting with reindeer and the like. We have holiday fabrics too; table runners and kitchen table clothes with shimmering gold tinsel threads laced between shades of cranberry that have an uncanny way of disguising the home made salsa I just slopped.
After two days of arranging and rearranging its perfect, elves couldn’t have done better, yet this sylvan creation lacks a focal point: we need a tree.
“Surely they should have Christmas trees by now, don’t cha think?” Robin said.
“I would hope so; Christmas is right around the corner.”
“Would you like to come to town and shop for one with me?”
“Thanks but no thanks. I trust you’ll bring home a fine tree. I’ll just hang out here and finish pluming the hot water heater.”
Historically, my Christmas tree acquisitions have been . . . flops — literally speaking. They have a half life of nine ornaments before going to ground. After a couple of hours, she returns home shopping bags in tow, a telltale pine branch sticking out of the bed of the truck.
“Did you find a good one?” I ask.
“Yes, its perfect; just the right height.”
“How much did you pay for it?”
“Fifty dollars.”
“Fi . . . fi . . . fifty bucks!” I croaked.
“It’s Okay Gene.”
She knows I’m teasing, at least I think she knows I’m teasing, however; Christmas wisdom tells me not to push my luck; I know better than spoil the holiday Zeitgeist.
Later, I walk outside to inspect the tree, tripping over the stand Robin conveniently placed next to the steps for me to find. It’s when I drop the tail gait I realize this is no ordinary tree; its sleek, its straight, it has precise symmetry and a perfect crown, its some kind of genetic hybrid, grown special by Christmas mavens who know how to gene splice a blue spruce with a Doug fir, after a hundred years of selective breeding: race horses aren’t this perfect. And the best part — in 2.5 minutes it’s in the stand, stalk-straight and ornament ready — and I’m back in a recliner in front of the Broncos game.
During the commercials I watch Robin methodically decorate it, lights first, then just the right smattering of ornaments and of course; another Victorian Santa on top.
“You’re doing a marvelous job, honey.”
“This is the best Christmas tree we have ever had,” she said.
“Ain’t it though . . . best fifty bucks I’ve ever spent.


लैटर तो Sears

Sears Headquarters
3333 Beverly Rd.
Hoffman Estates Il 60179
Customer service

December 1, 2008

To Whom It May Concern:
I grew up on Sears products. Now that I am fifty, have remodeled and sold several homes, all of which have been furnished with Sears fine line of appliances, I regret to inform you. This is a divorce.

This stems from an incident at one of your satellite retail stores where I purchased an upper end stainless steel barbecue grill and was sold a rotisserie.
“This unit will fit your grill,” the sales person assured me.

Due to ongoing home construction, the rotisserie sat in the box for months, until on the Fourth of July, when I was ready to turn a pork loin, I discovered the rotisserie did not fit my grill. So I boxed it up neatly with all the packaging and instructions, and with receipt in hand I presented the rotisserie for return at the Cortez Colorado store, where I was informed —in no cordial manner—they would not take it back!

Pity; and here I am in the market for a front loading washer and dryer, which I will be purchasing from one of your competitors. Apparently Sears has so much market share they can sacrifice service in this tumultuous economic environment.

After giving Sears the best years of my life I’m afraid our differences are irreconcilable. I acquiesce; there will be no custody battle.


Gene Palmisano