By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Dawn's Column - Pre-Wrapped, Pre-Lit? Sold
Placeholder Image
Due to some out-of-the-ordinary circumstances this year I'm dealing with a time crunch, so I'm all about convenience for the holidays.

My husband and I have been cooking larger meals and freezing the extra in order to have some things we can just "zap" in the microwave at another time.

I've found myself combining appointments and commitments with quick stops for shopping when I have a few minutes to spare. The other night I swung by a bookstore on my way home. Normally, I would browse a while but this time I had book titles and authors in hand and went straight to customer service to inquire if they had the books in stock rather than try to find them myself. The clerk took me to the right spots and I made a beeline for checkout.

The clerk at the register noted that they had free gift wrap if I was interested. Free gift wrap? Sign me up, I said.

During a recent trip to a salon with a boutique, I did some pre-shopping for a holiday open house. As soon as the open house event started, I picked up the items I wanted, got a good discount, and the gifts were also wrapped as a courtesy.

The gift-wrapping is a much-appreciated service for me this year. It's something I typically enjoy doing myself, but having a few presents "done" before I even get home helps a lot.

A week or so ago, my husband and I went to the local warehouse store to restock our freezer. As we wound our way through the place, we came across some nicely pre-packaged gift items. I looked at him and said, "Those are nice and they're perfect for our friends." No further wrapping required. We bought several.

Then I saw the pre-lit faux Christmas tree. It was pretty nice; one of the best fake trees I've seen. I started to think about how much easier that kind of tree would make life right now. The lights are already on it, no needles to clean up, no gaps you have to hide by turning it to the wall, no worrying if it's too tall and having to cut it shorter, and... all neat and tidy in a box.

Normally, I wouldn't consider a fake tree and had not considered one for this year until we stumbled upon this warehouse version. We have a fun tradition of going out to pick our Christmas tree each year. I like the smell of the fresh pine and make decorations out of the extra boughs. This year is a little different, though, and spending the time to do all that, dealing with vacuuming the shed needles, the watering, and so on just doesn't seem practical, and I shared those thoughts with my husband.

We considered the nice-looking fake tree in front of us, talked about the price, but weren't sure if it was a good deal or not. There were only three left. We hemmed and hawed a little. I know the nice ones aren't cheap but we wanted to do some price checking first to know for sure, so we moved on.

The next day, one of my coworkers said, "Hey, if it makes your life easier, don't apologize for it. Just do it." She added with a smile, "You have my permission."

Yeah, I thought. Why not?

In retrospect, waiting was a mistake. The tree turned out to be quite a good deal after all. When I went back two nights later, they were sold out. I wish we had bought it; we could've returned it later if we had changed our minds.

That's always how it goes at those warehouse stores. If you want it, you better get it because it won't be there later.

After having a manager check their computer to see if any more were available in the area, there was one store with several where we might have a chance. I called my husband who was on a business trip and asked him to pick it up on his way home the next day. It, too, was sold out by the time he got there. Maybe we're just not meant to have that tree this year.

I now find myself contemplating a purchase of an inexpensive faux tree I saw at the local drugstore. My husband joked that the Charlie Brown tree I put on my desk at work may need to come back home. It's getting a little late to order one on the Internet, but I'm considering the online classifieds.

All I know is that it's not the end of the world if we don't have a tree this year. Although, I can't say my husband feels exactly the same way. But I'm not gonna sweat it. We have some other Christmas decorations displayed that make our home festive and inviting. If it works out, it works out. If we run across the right pre-lit faux tree during our errands then that would be great. Pre-decorated would be good, too.

Dawn M. Henley is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.