Monday, September 18, 2006


It was a lousy move - a terrible move, a move that made me announce with gritted teeth and a certain amount of venom that I would never, never ever, move house alone again. I would also not fly the kids across country on my own using a bizarre (but thrifty) itinerary that had us change planes twice, and take a taxi from one Dallas airport to another.

The timing could have been better as well. The kids and I flew in to San Jose late on the night of December 22nd. It wasn't until a few days before we left that I realized we had done absolutely no Christmas shopping for the kids at all. None - no stocking presents, nothing for under the tree, nada.

So December 23rd we packed up the crew and took them to a 'brainy' toy store in San Mateo. With the subtlety of a Disney animator we casually suggested that they 'look around' and 'just see what they saw.' Yup, very smooth. Fortunately we have (had) trusting and slightly naive children who saw nothing funny about this and happily wandered the store while we tailed them and took notes. They also claim they didn't notice when I hustled them into the Target next door for spurious errands, nor did they see any large bags piled in the back of the truck. Now that I think about it, it's possible that I'm the trusting and naive one for believing them all this time!

We didn't even have a Christmas tree yet, but there was a sales lot outside of Half Moon Bay on the way down the highway towards home. There was a larger selection than I would have expected - still several dozen trees, although they were definitely the scraggly, also-ran variety. We picked out one that didn't lose all of its needles if you glared at it sideways, and headed for the lot owner. He was sitting dispiritedly on a bucket, listening to some country singer wailing about his truck.

'Yup.' he said, starting at our tree. 'O.K. Well, we're selling these here at a discount on account of its so close and that.'

He looked around at his half-full lot, looked back at us and brightened up as a brilliant idea hit him.

'In fact folks, it's buy one, get one free!'

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