I am a Christmas dork, which is really quite something for an atheist, albeit of the Catholic-born persuasion. I mentioned before that I love love LOVE wrapping, and my second favorite thing is putting the tree up. My best friend lives on Long Island, and every year we drive out to her local Christmas tree farm where you can cut your own for about $25. We have had many misadventures, yet we persist. This year, the freaking farm was closed – on a Saturday, 5 days before Christmas. We spat, we cursed, and I joined her in her pissed-offness at having to pay full price for a tree somewhere else. She managed to negotiate a $15 discount, then the bastard outwitted her by adding on $5 in “tax”. Um…never in my life has there been tax added on to the price quoted for a tree. And this after she worked the Sicilian connection and promised him homemade Sicilian treats – which we delivered 20 minutes later. She’s better at letting these things go than I am, but honestly, that $10 saved is probably what it cost her in ingredients to make her gourmet treats.
We were planning to go dutch on a nice dinner and call it our Christmas gift to each other. She’s been unemployed since March, but made a crapload of money in the first 10 weeks of the year and isn’t hurting yet – she even said this weekend that the best habit she ever developed was living below her means. Anyway, one of her good friends flew in that evening for the holidays and suggested we all get together – his dad joined us and paid. She covered the tip and we made a joke about me repaying her for half and calling it a Depression-era Christmas.
The next morning, we hit CVS for a ton of freebies that impressed the hell out of her. I totally messed it up though, mostly on my Mom’s club account. Darn those sneaky slightly-different eye shadows! I should have left CVS with at least $25 in ECBs for my mom to use and came away with just $7. I couldn’t return the mistakes because I’d paid for them with ECBs and…ugh, I won’t bore you with the adminny ins-and-outs of returns. Anyway, I texted her the bad news, and she replied “Istillloveyouanyway”…yeah, Mom hasn’t figured out how to make a space in a phone text. I’m getting over the mistake though. I came away with $113 worth of Listerine, clinical-strength deodorant, energy bars and drink mixes, eye shadow (my nemesis!), nail polish, contact lens solution, Zantac (for Starfish), Excedrin and Halls cough drops – for $1.27 out of pocket and left with $30 in ECBs. I started with $18 in ECBs and would have come away with $8 more if I hadn’t screwed up the eye shadow. Mom, in absentia, got $95 worth of stuff for $4 out of (my) pocket. Because we drove the young cashier crazy with 8 trips to the register to pull this off, and she was very patient and helpful (and impressed!), we gave her one of the eyeshadows because, looking at her, it was clearly her favorite cosmetic item. She seemed genuinely touched. As for the haul, well, everyone is getting Listerine in their stocking – good thing Mom knits huge stockings!