Friday, November 27 2020

cheating at candy land, christmas trees, and hand-crafted christmas presents

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Dear Journal,

Good evening, everybody. Happy Friday. The Friday after Thanksgiving is a pretty magical day, isn't it? I love how it feels like a Saturday, with it's own complete weekend bolted onto the back half. After sleeping in today and splitting our time between lounging around the house and grazing on leftovers, I feel so undeserving of a full weekend. Undeserving, but I'll take it. I've spent so much of this year trying to catch up on a sleep deficit, I suppose the wisest thing to do now would be to try to accumulate a sleep surplus to hold me over until Christmas break.

Sip. How was your black Friday? If you're the black Friday shopping type, I hope you were still able to get your kicks with some Internet shopping. I myself spent a little bit of time beefing up my Amazon wish list. This year's theme would have to be silly games to play inside. Poker, battleship, carpet hockey, a dartboard. It's going to be a long winter, and I can already tell that just Jenga and Candy Land aren't going to cut it.

A few hours ago after polishing off some turkey, stuffing, and swiss sandwiches, we set up the board for a quick game of Candy Land. Rodney was in a particular wriggly mood, acting out elaborate scenes with his plastic figurine. Marissa and I sipped on wine, exchanging mutually bored eyeballs while Rodney embellished his turn, stretching it out over minutes.

To get back at him, we started to slyly move pieces around the board when Rodney wasn't looking. Even though he had reached the end of the board ten turns before, he failed to notice his piece was mysteriously stalled at the last several squares, no matter what card he drew. Cheating at Candy Land - not my proudest moment, but Candy Land is barely a real game anyway, right?

We had a great day today. Taking it easy in the morning with a late lunch, we hopped in the car and ventured out to a different part of town to find a small family run Christmas tree farm. Last year, we picked up our tree from the seasonal depot in the Hy-Vee parking lot. It was convenient, but they don't open up shop until later in the month, and Marissa was really excited to get started.

Rodney hopped out of his car seat, wandering behind Marissa into the long outdoor halls of pine trees. I brought up the rear of our caravan, lugging Miles' car seat on my hip. Marissa and Rodney approached a promising candidate.

"What do you think about this one dude?" asked Marissa.

Rodney nodded, "this one this one this one," he said, his mouth twitching with excitement underneath his mask. Marissa scanned the outdoor shop.

"What do we do now?" I laughed.

Marissa's brow furrowed. "Does anyone work here?"

A large man turned the corner into our aisle. He took lethargic steps, staring passed us with bleak eyes. Marissa broke his sight line with a friendly but persistent wave.

"I think we want this one," she said, gingerly patting our tree. The man reached out a meaty hand, grabbed the top of the trunk, and flung it on the concrete.

"Take the tag," he groaned.

"I'm sorry?" asked Marissa.

He kicked his boot at a little paper tag hanging on the end of the tree. Marissa gave it a sharp tug, and the man began to walk away into the parking lot dragging our tree behind him on the concrete like a corpse.

"What is he doing?" she laughed. "Do we follow him? How do they know that's ours? Where do we pay?"

Sure enough, our friend dragged our tree all the way to the parking lot, slumping it on the ground beside several other identical looking trees. The people working at the packing station had no idea which was ours, and if not for the small remnant tag still attached to the bottom, we'd have to pick all over again.

Marissa and I hoisted the wrapped pine tree to our car roof, and a small rusty nail rolled out of the needles falling into Rodney's car seat.

"Look at this," I said, picking up the nail for Marissa. "The cherry on top for a truly terrible experience."

"Where did that come from?" said Marissa with horror.

"I don't know," I shrugged. "Probably off the ground, while lurch was dragging our tree through the parking lot like he had just finished a mob hit."

But not even an oddly unwelcoming and dysfunctional family run Christmas tree farm experience could dampen our Christmas spirit. After dinner, we lugged the tree into our living room and cut it free. The scent of fresh pine began to leak into the air. I think I'm officially in the Christmas spirit.

While decorating the house, Marissa and I discussed our plans for gifts. We got side tracked and started talking about the year where we tried to make all of our gifts by hand.

"Do you remember that?" I laughed. "We made Kelly and Jeremy a Catan board, and for some reason I did most of the cutting."

Marissa began to cackle. "The little hexagons didn't even line up. And it was so dangerous, I think I had you just use my circular saw."

"And than there was the little nativity scene you made out of clay for my parents. The Mary and Joseph heads that kept rolling off?"

Marissa doubled over with laughter. "And the little shepherd's canes kept breaking," she squeaked, out of breath.

"You know what would be good?" I said. "We should ask for the gifts back so we can fix them. We'll make a big deal out of it, and say we want to make some improvements in lieu of a Christmas gift this year."

Something about picturing us trying to keep a straight face while asking for the return of our ill-advised hand-crafted Christmas presents from four years ago really makes me laugh.

Thanks for stopping by today. Hope you have a wonderful day.