Let the festivities begin!

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So this morning we ventured forth into the 22 degree weather to get our annual Christmas tree.  This marks the fifth straight year that we have done so as a family, going to the same tree farm each year.  We like this tree farm because although the trees are somewhat more expensive than the ones at the gas station, they have a petting zoo and free cocoa and they drill a hole in the end of your tree and stick it on a patented “Marriage Saving Tree Stand” so that when you get it home you just stand it up and it’s ready to decorate.

Note: feeding farm animals a handful of oats for 25 cents — thereby transforming a fifteen dollar bag of oats into a veritable gold mine for the farm (note to self: THIS IS WHERE THE MONEY IS EARNED, THE TREES ARE JUST TO LURE YOU IN) is a major draw for the children, but it’s the tree stand that brings The Lovely Rhonda and I back year after expensive year.  No price is too high to pay to get out of having to apply a rickety pot-metal stand to the nether regions of a majestic fir tree, and furthermore get it to stand up straight.   It’s a miserable hobby that nobody enjoys, least of all me, the designated spider-killer, lawn-mower and tree-erector of the household.

Each year we have also had to find our way to the tree farm as though we had never been there before, because we can only remember the vaguest details about it — “it’s the one with the goats, and I think there was a guy in suspenders?” — and certainly can’t be bothered to recall useful information such as, for instance, its name?  Or perhaps general location?

And so it was that we once again this year performed the traditional Festive Annual U-Turn when we realized we were, as with the previous three years, on the right road but going the wrong way.

Within moments of embarking from the Minivan of Justice we found a worthwhile adversary and, as always, I was elected to dispatch the thing.  We dragged its gory remains back to the van:

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Then as we drove it up to the barn for embalming shaking and baling, TLR said, Um, guys?  Look out the back window?  What is that?

And there was a llama being walked around the estate, all splay footed and knobbly kneed, and we had to pile out and meet it.

Her name was Shania Twain and we dutifully had a photo op.

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Once we’d exhausted the possibilities of the llama-tree-farm juxtaposition absurdity factor, we crept onwards to the barn.  We allowed the children to ride sans belts, on the floor if desired, and the eldest enjoyed a heretofore unprecedented joyride in the forbidden front seat.  Such is our carefree existence that this relaxation of protocol made them all giddy and unmanageable.

At the tiny guard hut where you pay for your kill tree, the cashier informed us jubilantly that the car ahead of us had gotten their tree for free.  One of the local credit unions was handing out envelopes with coupons in them for varying amounts off of the purchase price of the trees, and these lucky bastards fortunate holiday shoppers had received a fifty dollar coupon.  Ours was for twenty dollars for which we were pretty stoked, right up until we heard that.  THANKS FOR THE BUZZKILL, CASHIER LADY.

I kid.  The whole thing was pretty magical.  We had no idea they were doing that today and it was a really nice bonus to get the tree for basically one-third off.

We had that sucker shaken, baled and stuffed in to the MOJ in no time and proceeded on, as is customary, to the petting zoo.

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Then we piled into the MOJ and drove our trophy home, to display it in all its grisly splendor until the day after Christmas, at which point I will become physically unable to stand the disruption for ONE. MORE. SECOND. and strip it of ornaments and lights and dump it in the side yard.  The end.

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