Jon Dawson: Christmas shopping at the Dollar Tree

Photo by Marta Wave on

Everything you need for Christmas is at the Dollar Tree, or as it’s rumored to become soon, the $1.25 Tree.

The Wife and The Tax Deductions always buy a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. Once they arrive home, I’ll usually spend the next six hours trying to get the tree level in a stand purchased at the Leaning Tower of Pisa gift shop. Once the tree is level, I disappear faster than Jussie Smollett’s agent.

The first time I was in charge of setting up the tree I had to cram a few dozen issues of Toothpick Collector magazine and a high-heeled shoe under one leg of the stand to keep everything level. One year after removing the tree skirt our oldest daughter thought the dozens of magazines were presents from Santa that we’d missed.

Artificial trees are easier, but a Fraser fir just has a smell that can’t be matched by a plastic sweatshop tree assembled by an 8-year-old in Cambodia. WCTI fixture Brian North puts up an artificial tree every year, but to get that authentic tree smell he soaks his tree in a barrel of Aqua Velva for the entire month of November.

“Growing up on a farm I learned not to waste anything,” North said. “Once the tree is removed from the barrel of Aqua Velva I pour in a few gallons of melted cheddar. It makes a great dip that I call Aqua Velveeta.”

Avoid the box store blues with a visit to Blizzard Building Supply at 405 Walston Avenue, Kinston.

Some people wait till the week of Christmas to put up a tree, while others have theirs ready to go sometime around Labor Day. There’s even a section of our society who humbug the whole thing and can’t even muster the will to hang up a plastic wreath from the Dollar Tree.

Before you cast aspersions on Dollar Tree decorations, I’ll have you know that any Christmas is better than no Christmas. During the years I worked in the newspaper industry, I did all of my Christmas shopping at the Dollar Tree. Where else can you walk in with $5 and come out with a VHS copy of Manimal, a Jim Jones cyanide PEZ dispenser, motivational facial tissues, a Do-It-Yourself appendectomy kit, and a box of Goobers?

A massive pre-Christmas sale at Bannister’s Fine Gifts begins on Dec. 13th.

Far be it from me to impede on anyone’s boogie, but I really like Christmas. It would be nice if the spiritual side of the holiday could permeate all throughout the year, but the way things are I say make hay while the sun is shining. If you’re a humbug – and that’s your right – don’t bust a vein if someone says “Merry Christmas”. Just take it in the spirit it was intended and go be miserable by yourself.

I haven’t always been enlightened when it comes to staying out of other people’s business. One year in an effort to cheer up a friend I invited him to our church’s Christmas cantata, but he declined. In an effort to make an effort I bought him an $8 artificial tree with fiber optic lights built into its needles. I sat the tiny tree on top of his television on Dec. 13, turned it on, and ordered him to get some Christmas spirit.

On New Year’s Day I checked in on him and the tree was still blinking, just as it was later on in February and March. Every fiber of my being was screaming to ask why he hadn’t turned it off, but I held firm. That little tree was still blinking when Christmas rolled around the following year, and when the cheapo Sunbeam batteries finally gave out after nearly a year of continuous service, Rip Van Winkle Jr. quipped: “they just don’t make anything the way they used to.”

Earlier this week I heard about a lawsuit involving the Jolly Green Giant and Santa Claus. Turns out the Green Giant company is claiming a copyright on the phrase “ho ho ho”, thus making it impossible for Santa to utter the phrase in public without paying a royalty. In a clever retort, Santa’s attorney stated his client was actually saying “hoe, hoe, hoe”, which is how he motivates the elves to tend his garden in the off-season.

At the other end of the spectrum, a 27-year-old woman with a 5-year-old son told me last week she dreads putting up a tree – and hers is one of those artificial trees that had lights on it when she bought it. All you have to do is plug it in and you’re in business. It’s really no more of a commitment than plugging in the toaster.

Having established that people put their Christmas trees up at varying times and often under duress when is the proper time to take them down?

Our tree usually comes down on New Year’s Day. The tree is now a $50 investment, so it tends to stay up for the whole month. That works out to about $1.61 per day, which in the grand scheme of things is some pretty inexpensive holiday cheer when you consider many Americans spend $6 a day on a cup of bean juice at Starbucks.

But just like there will always be those who prefer to hear music on a real stereo instead of through the tiny, wimpy speaker of a smartphone, there will be those of us who still love Christmas trees. Whether your tree is a Fraser fir, an artificial sweatshop tree, or a candy cane you found in your winter coat from the year before, try to enjoy it this year.

Jon Dawson’s books are available at

You can hear Jon on the Bryan Hanks Show:

The Bryan Hanks Show airs on 960-AM in Kinston, and daily at 7 a.m. & 3 p.m. It also airs on the suite of stations in New Bern and Greenville (107.5-FM) at 6 p.m. Archived shows are available at

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