Two Stories of Christmas Procrastination and Redemption

For a variety of reasons, I was pretty late going out to find a Christmas tree and did not actually begin the search until last Sunday  (I had a conference the week before and my kids were not in town and it is not that much fun to shop for trees without my kids).  Anyway, it turns out that there is some sort of Christmas tree shortage, at least in this area.  All my go-to inexpensive spots (the grocery store, Costco) were out.  The usually high-cost tent location at the plant nursery had trees but double and triple the usual costs -- starting at $250 for a 6 foot tree.  I am a big supporter of allowing price "gouging" during shortages and in this case the pricing mechanism worked just fine -- I passed on these trees at this price, presumably allowing someone who valued these trees more than I to find some still available.

Finally, I went to the Home Depot and they were apparently out as well - they were just selling some miscellaneous branches to people to wanted to make wreaths.  But way in the back was one tree -- and a tall one at that, at least 9 feet.  No one had wanted to buy it because it looked like something out of Dr. Seuss -- it had nice foliage at the bottom, then a completely open 2 foot gap, then nice foliage, than another large gap, etc.   Anyway, my daughter the artist and the undisputed right-brain flag bearer in the family, immediately loved it and insisted I buy it.  The guys there thought they were out of business and did not even have their price list any more.  I said, "hey guys, no one wants this, you have to give me a discount."  We agreed on $40 and we had a tree.

It turned out great.  The large gaps in the tree have become more of a feature than a bug, allowing a 3D ornament display impossible on normal trees.  It is tall and thin and looks great in our tall room.

Then, on the same day we had our tree adventure, we realized that no one had done anything about a Christmas card.  It was always my job in the past to design the card, but last year I passed the mantle on to my daughter.  But we had not explicitly assigned responsibility this year so nothing got done.  At this point my daughter disappears into her room with her laptop for what we supposed was a nap.  But she exited two hours later with our card design.  She didn't have all the fancy Wacom tablets and such she had at art school, only the trackpad on her laptop, so she said she just used the circle tool a lot but to my eye it came out great, and allows the Coyote family to continue its 25+ year run of never buying an off-the-shelf Christmas card.



  1. Ward Chartier:

    Great tree. Great card.

  2. SamWah:

    Neat card!

  3. kidmugsy:

    Narrow escape: we prepared a card to send to friends, of whom the wife is very ill. Just in time we noticed that it was a charity card, raising money for a hospice.

  4. jimc5499:

    I like the eyes on Santa and the reindeer. It makes you wonder what Santa and Rudolph see that the others don't/

  5. Tanuki Man:

    Kudos to her! Nice job on the card!

  6. Tom Murin:

    Maybe there should be a government imposed price cap on trees? Then we can guarantee that the public is "protected" and that there will be a perpetual shortage!

  7. Mercury:

    Often when you cut your own tree in the wild you can get not only some bare spots but some long, creeper branches too. If you have the space these can look cool decorated as well with 5ft boughs in the middle of the tree reaching out with lights and ornaments. Not everyone's ideal but I think it looks cool and more natural.

    Best Christmas tree story ever right here:

  8. Jay Solo:

    Nice card! The tree thing amused me. We threw out our old artificial tree after last Christmas, on the idea we'd get a new one for this year. As the season approached, the wife enthused that I could get a real tree if I wanted this year. She hates those and I'd never had anything else, prior. Then, since I didn't RUSH to buy one by around Thanksgiving, she backed off and decided me absolutely had to get a tiny fake tree. It couldn't take over her living room! Couldn't we maybe get a little prelit thing and put it on a table? Through this whole thing, I said almost nothing, just absorbed her careening opinions and making it clear I didn't care that strongly about a real tree but didn't want a 2 foot tabletop prelit thing. Finally, my having still not rushed out to buy a tree, she declared that the kids were creative and could "make something!" So a couple weeks ago, they moved the remaining three plants from the tall wooden plant stand that had belonged to my grandparents most of my life, moved it, and - to my surprise - decorated it into something remarkably attractive and abstractly tree-like. It threatens to become a tradition.

  9. Dan Wendlick:

    Just declare that everyone has a right to a Christmas tree, then set up mandatory minimums for size, number of branches, shade of green, and color of lights. when the price of trees goes up, blame the growers and distributors, and force them to pay into a fund that will supply trees to low-income people, and pass a tax on anyone purchasing a tree over 7' tall, and on egg nog too, just for the heck of it.

  10. Mike Powers:

    " I passed on these trees at this price, presumably allowing someone who
    valued these trees more than I to find some still available."

    okay now you're just fuckin' with us here

  11. CapnRusty:

    That's going to be the card, and the tree, you and yours will remember forever.

  12. Mercury:

    Actually, now that I think about it, the above children's book could be interpreted as a trickle-down-economics allegory of sorts.

    (Spoiler alert!) Wealthy Mr. Willowby gets a big xmas tree for his mansion, it's just a little too big so he snips off the top 5ft or so. The butler takes that for his apartment and once it's placed on his table (or whatever), finds that this remnant is a bit too big for him, so he takes a bit off the top....then the maid gets that piece....then Mr. Fox outside...Mr. Mouse etc.

  13. DMK:

    Coyote: I find your "tall and thin and looks great" comment to be disparaging to some.

  14. Ombibulous:

    When we bought real trees, I would routinely fill gaps by cutting branches off the rear of the tree which faced a corner and inserting them into holes I drilled strategically into the front. I would also use black thread to lift branches up, thereby improving the look of the tree.

    Dad's gotta do what Dad's gotta do.

  15. me:

    Oh man, that picture reminded me so much of home :)
    Merry XMas and congratulations on the ultimate achievement - proven successful parenting!