Where Are You Christmas?

Admittedly, I worried about not being to find things to decorate my apartment with when I moved overseas. Christmas decorations are important to me, but I’m not going to ship them. At some point, though, I will be bringing my ornaments back with me. After all, those are my personal history in ornament form. It’s all sorts of memories wrapped up in little pieces I hang on the family tree every year.

On Friday – Black Friday in the States and the first year I didn’t go shopping with the loonies at Super Walmart at midnight – I went to Carrefour and found some Christmas decorations up already. I bought a four foot tree, red ball ornaments, red and silver garland, and white rice lights. I didn’t really think too hard about it; I wanted a Christmas tree.

Let me qualify this by saying I’d ridden my bike to the store to gather some basic supplies like laundry detergent and paper towels. I had to wait for the icy rain to stop – welcome to Shanghai for the next several months, everyone tells me – and figured that my bike would be a faster means of transportation to avoid a second wave of rain. But what I didn’t add to the equation was super-slippery road conditions.

As I’m trying to get my bike over the curb and onto the bike path, I take a massive spill onto the sidewalk as my tire slips madly over the concrete. And when I say I ate concrete, that is figurative, of course, but not too far from the truth. It was more like “hello, sidewalk, this is face. Face, this is sidewalk. Good, now you’ve met!” I haven’t been this banged up since … probably thirteen years ago when I actually last rode a bike. Palms all scraped up, right knee scraped, and an enormous bruise on my left inner calf from catching it on the bike seat. Ouchies.

But, I need to get to the store. So I stand up, pretend like I wasn’t just laying prostrate on the bike path, and think that I’ll clean out my bleeding hands and knees at Starbucks. The lovely thing is, everyone I work with or teach is at Starbucks, and when I show up with no make-up, nasty, muddy jeans, and bleeding palms, you know they have questions. As I told one person, “you should see the other guy…”

After cleaning out my wounds with soap and rough paper towels (shoo, that hurts more!), I wipe as much mud off my jeans as I can before going to the little baking shop in the mall for a Pyrex measuring cup – I LOVE YOU PYREX! – and some Christmasy-shaped cookie cutters. When I make peppermint chocolate shortbreads, I don’t want to have to use the only cookie cutter I currently have: a crown. So, I have a crown-shaped cookie cutter. I make no apologies. 🙂

Now, it’s grocery store time. Since I looked like I got beat up in a back alley somewhere, people miraculously avoid running into me. I’m able to look at Christmas trees, and after deciding on one, I toss all the Christmas stuff into my cart and figure I’ll sort out transportation of said tree home later.

I check out with not only my tree but also with Christmas stuff, and basic necessities. From there, I must devise some sort of genius plan in order to get everything home before it: a) rains like heck again, b) I fall off my bike again, and/or c) I give up and just walk home and get my bike later.

I have three bags. The tree, all three feet of the box, gets shoved into my backpack with a buffer of toilet paper rolls. I clip all the zippers up so my tree doesn’t go bouncy, bouncy down the busy road on my way home – sort of like the AllState Mayhem commercial. The rest of the stuff is shoved into either an over-the-shoulder bag from AMLE or a giant red bag that I can hang from my handlebars. Keep in mind that I need to fix the handles of my bike because they got knocked in my spectacular fall earlier. I’m riding on a crooked tilt. With a large bag. And a Christmas tree. I also am not kinesthetically intelligent either.

I am sensing an epic failure ahead.

As I sort this out by the bike racks, I am garnering a crowd of curious onlookers. Why is this strange woman trying to cart all this stuff home? But, most importantly, I figured it out, and miracle of all miracles, I manage to get home, safe and sound, with nothing falling out of my bags – or me falling over.

So, the next time you buy a Christmas tree, you can be thankful that you didn’t have to put it in your backpack and ride your bike home. Or that you have better balance than I do.

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