Dec 082008

As I wrote a couple days back, I’ve never bought a Christmas Tree before.   But yesterday was the big day: Zaira and I headed into the woods and cut down our very own Christmas tree.  It was absolutely a blast!

Neither of us has ever cut down a tree before, and Zaira’s never had a real Christmas Tree so we were both pretty excited.  We went to the Paradise Tree Farm here in Morgan Hill and (although I wasn’t overly impressed with their service) there were plenty of trees to choose from and they did supply a saw.  We took a bunch of pictures and a video of the entire tree cutting process, but the memory card in the camera apparently got corrupted in the middle of that video so not only do we not have it, but none of the transport and set-up pictures either 🙁

After a brief rundown consisting primarily of names of tree types and prices (neither of which mattered at all to me) and we headed up “cardiac hill” to the closeout section.  Zaira’s new boots (purchased for her upcoming trip to Yosemite) got well broken in while she learned to navigate along the side of a hill.  We found several good candidates before finally deciding on our tree.  Either the saw was sharper than I thought or trees are weaker than I though, because it took Zaira and I less than 15 minutes to chop down our tree.

This was immediately followed by cheers of “We killed a tree!  We killed a tree!” and the two of us victoriously heading down the hill with our conquest held above our heads.  We loaded it into Rover and brought the bad boy home where I busted out all of the brand new tree accessories I had bought Friday at Target: tree stand, skirt, lights, ornaments and a star for the top.

Our first Christmas tree now resides in the living room of The Caverns, lighting up the room, the presents, and our hearts.

Dec 062008

After the phenomenal success of my first Thanksgiving dinner last week I’ve decided to dive head-first into Christmas as well.  Following the precept of “If you’re going to do something, do it all the  way”, Zaira and I will be heading into a pine forest tomorrow and cutting down our own Christmas tree.  I pretty much despise plastic trees.  During my childhood we had real trees for the longest time and then my mother finally bought a fancy fake tree.  I’m not saying that, specifically, was the cause, but I know Christmas was never the same after that.  After all, there’s a reason they call live trees “real” Christmas trees.

So tomorrow we dive head first into another holiday and have yet another serious chance to do real damage to each other (falling trees, axes, saws, etc).  Hopefully we’ll come through it as unscathed as we did Thanksgiving.  This will be the first time Zaira cuts her own tree, our fiurst tree together, and the first Christmas  tree ever to reside in The Caverns.  Details will certainly appear sometime in the coming week.  Wish us luck!

Dec 052008

A few days ago I wrote a piece about Sears and their holiday wish lists for United States military personnel and feedback has been poring in ever since. I knew I’d get feedback on the post, but was a bit surprised at the angle several of the responses took. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

The Sears Heroes at Home Wish Registry is a program Sears is heavily promoting that appears at first glance to be a way for those on the homefront to support soldiers overseas by helping them purchase much needed items for the holidays.  You know, things like kids’ coats, dresses for little girls, boys’ pants, Nintendo Wii’s, booster seats for baby and flat screen televisions.  Yes, you read that right:  Nintendo Wii and flat screen TV both made the top 100 list of items that U.S. servicemen need this Christmas.

So are you starting to see why I might have a problem with this program aside from my general distaste for the government stealing my money in order to oppress innocent people abroad?  I further took Sears to task over the fact that they aren’t putting their own money into the program, and aren’t even helping supply these so-called necessities.  They’re just offering to collect your money, turn it into Sears Gift Cards (which can obviously only be used at Sears), and hand it over to a select group of soldier’s families.  They didn’t even go to the trouble of setting up a charity to do so which means that your so-called donation isn’t even tax-deductible.

Back to the responses…

I expected much more of the “why do you hate the troops” and “you’re a communist idiot” type of feedback than I received.  In fact, a majority of it (by a narrow margin, but still a majority) was positive.  And I’m not just talking about from my anarchist and freedom-loving brethren.  No, even from much more traditional corners. As I wrote yesterday, I can still be a fan of Sears and be wholly against this program.  Just as I can still support the soldiers as people and detest what they’ve chosen to do for a living.  I would like nothing more than to have all of the U.S. military personnel home safe for the holidays.  I think the Iraqis and Afghanis would probably appreciate that as well. Then everyone could have a happy holidays and Sears would have quite a few more customers as well 😉


Dec 042008

Feedback keeps poring in about the Sears post I wrote a few days ago.  But before I get into responding to all of that I want to assure all my readers that it’s not the store itself I have a problem with. Sears offers some really great products, pretty good service (most of the time) and some seriously high quality products at perfectly reasonable prices. They also really know how to throw a sale as evidenced by the Sears 3 Day Sale they’ve got going on right now.

Today, December 4th, through Saturday December 6th they’ve got some amazing holiday deals no matter who’s name you’re looking to cross off your gift list-

  • Mom – How ’bout a Craftsman 16-drawer tool storage combo on sale for $299.97?  That’s 50% off!
  • Dad – Kenmore vacuums are $50 off, bringing them down to $129.99!
  • The Whole Family – They’ve got a set of GE Christmas lights to brighten your holidays for only $7.99!
  • Your Favorite Blogger – See those flannel sheets up top?  Yeah, I’d love another set (or twenty) of those to keep me warm without running up my heating bill this month.  At only $19.99 you’re saving up to 75% which is very much  in the spirit of this blog.

And never forget that I’m a dedicated bargain hunter.  In other words I go where the deals are no matter what else is going on in that store.  So now you know where to find me this weekend… shopping at Sears!


Dec 012008

Apparently, Sears thinks the government isn’t sending enough of our money to the soldiers and they’re ready to do something about it with their Sears Heroes at Home Wish Registry.  Make sure you read that title correctly.  Sears isn’t offering to send the soldiers more money.  No, they’re asking that you send more of your money to soldiers and their families in the form of Sears gift cards.  And they’re making it easy by setting up a web page (linked above) for just that purpose.

At first glance it may seem that Sears will be providing holiday gifts to needy military families.  But nothing on the site actually says this.  All it says is that donations are not tax deductible (which means they aren’t charitable donations of any kind under law) and that the funds will be used to purchase Sears gift cards to distribute to all “registered families”. It then provides a box into which you can enter the dollar amount you’re willing to give to Sears in order for it to be passed on to “registered families”.  I could not find anywhere to register to become one of these families, so have no idea what the criteria is, but there are even more problems with this Heroes At Home program.

There’s also a list of the Top 100 items that “military families told us they really need this holiday season”.  Number 13 is a Nintendo Wii, #16 – an ATV, #24 – Nintendo DS,  #31 – Giant Four Story Dollhouse, #42 – Sony PSP, #68 – Flat Screen TV,  #93 Video Camera, and #100 Automatic Pet Feeder.  Sorry, Sears, but no one (military or not) “really needs” a single one of those items.

Besides, as I always say when confronted with these “Support Our Troops” so-called charitable events: 1) they aren’t my troops, and 2) I’m already supporting them – my taxes are forcibly taken to pay their salaries.  If these families can’t afford to buy the stuff they want for the hoidays they should find themselves another job that pays what they think they deserve.

If Sears wants to supply selected military families with gift cards no one is stopping them, but I find it somewhat sickening that you’re asking others to do what you’re not willing to and profiteering off it in the mean time by forcing the recipients to shop at your stores. That’s not charity, it’s advertising.