Festival of Trees: A Family Tradition
A long, long time ago I was born to a mother who loved Christmas trees, Christmas ornaments, Christmas wrapping paper, Christmas bows and all things December 25th-ish. When Chris and I first opened the winery in 1994 my mom was right there wondering what we would do for Christmas; she decided we needed to set up “a bunch of Christmas trees” and “decorate them fancy.” So the Madison Indiana Annual Festival of Trees was born the day after Thanksgiving 1994. The event turns 25 years old this year. I hope mom is proud of her idea. I miss her.
None the less, there has never been a more prolific shopper than my mom. She was a pro and when it came to Christmas ornaments she had it down to a science. She was a bargain hunter and one year we made a trip to Louisville to a store called Garden Ridge.( now it’s called At Home) They had half off all Christmas ornaments the week before Thanksgiving. We thought it was great because in the past we had always shopped the after Christmas sales for good deals. But that year we were going to get “first dibs.” That’s exactly what we did.
Initially the 50% off was exciting enough and as three and then four carts overflowed and we asked management for assistance so we could continue to shop – we were informed that 50% applied to the first one thousand and after that 10% more for each one thousand. Imagine my Christmas fanatic, bargain hunting mom shifting to high gear as she figured out we could shop for 9 thousand dollars’ worth of Christmas ornaments and spend far less than two grand getting first choice of everything in the store.
Fourteen (YES, I SAID 14) overloaded carts later, they closed down a checkout line just for us. The cashier changed the tape three times and Lanthier Winery went down in Garden Ridge history as the largest single day purchase of Christmas Ornaments. It was a glorious day filled with giggles and lots of “did you see this one” comments flying over the aisles between mom and I as we struggled in between other dedicated shoppers searching out the best ornaments. Keep in mind, when shopping for Festival of Trees ornaments it’s not about finding one or two ornaments for a tree. It’s about finding all the lights, trees, ribbon, and toppers for the tree, along with an angel to accompany the Host of Angels, The Festival of Trees sister event.
There was one moment I was concerned. I thought perhaps I might have to intervene when my mom found another curious customer rummaging through what must have been moms sixth or seventh cart of ornaments. She was working hard on finding everything needed for a 10 foot tree. That meant over 500 ornaments. It was a chore and there was no way my dear sweet mother was going to let anyone pick through her cherished finds. Moms bark was always worse than her bite and by the time she explained that she wasn’t being greedy but that all the ornaments were needed, the lady had already slowly begun to back away from my mother’s treasure of glitter, gleam and themed ornaments. It took 4 hours to check out and an hour to load the pick-up truck. Mom road home in the passenger seat entirely buried beneath all her cherished bargains. I had never seen her happier.