One of the staples of my holiday season is that I lead the Christmas Tree Sales ministry for my church. The goals of this ministry are to engage with our local community and to raise funds for the church. The process involves working with our tree grower in Vermont, arranging delivery of the trees, setting up the tree stands, displaying the trees, and ultimately selling trees. The hardest part is often trying to tie trees onto cars with frozen fingers.
Usually, customers are in good moods when they are shopping for their trees, but we do get a variety of customers with different strategies and temperaments. If it is raining like it was last Friday, people tend to buy the first tree they look at. No one wants to spend any more time out in the rain than is necessary. Some people have a holiday tradition that they must look at as many trees as possible, but nine times out of ten, they buy the first one that we showed them. Some families apply a democratic process to the search where everyone must agree on the chosen tree. For some couples, you can see the power play at work. When one chooses a tree that they like, the other spouse/partner seems to have the role of finding something wrong with that choice. Although it rarely gets awkward for us, we have had the occasion when one person walks off muttering “whatever.” It seems like everyone is search of the perfect tree. Luckily, no guidelines define perfection in Christmas trees. From talking to customers over the years when the tree is in their home and decorated, it is their perfect tree.
I think customers searching for Christmas trees are a lot like people in general. Some make decisions quickly; others are more deliberate. Some are fine with someone else making the choice while others want to be in control of the process. I’ve concluded that temperament is not something easily managed, though I suspect many of us would like to be able to manage our temperament in the moment. Having observed customers over many years, I try to use that experience to help me manage my temperament. Singer, songwriter Sheryl Crow (and many others) said “Happiness is not having what you want, it’s wanting what you have.” It’s a good principle to keep in mind, especially when buying your tree.
Take care and stay safe.
Dickens and Prince: A Particular Kind of Genius by Nick Hornby
Every so often, a pairing comes along that seems completely unlikely—until it’s not. Peanut butter and jelly, Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong Un, ducks and puppies, and now: Dickens and Prince.
Equipped with a fan’s admiration and his trademark humor and wit, Nick Hornby invites us into his latest obsession: the cosmic link between two unlikely artists, geniuses in their own rights, spanning race, class, and centuries—each of whom electrified their different disciplines and whose legacy resounded far beyond their own time.
When Prince’s 1987 record Sign o’ the Times was rereleased in 2020, the iconic album now came with dozens of songs that weren’t on the original— Prince was endlessly prolific, recording 102 songs in 1986 alone. In awe, Hornby began to wonder, Who else ever produced this much? Who else ever worked that way? He soon found his answer in Victorian novelist and social critic Charles Dickens, who died more than a hundred years before Prince began making music.
Examining the two artists’ personal tragedies, social statuses, boundless productivity, and other parallels, both humorous and haunting, Hornby shows how these two unlikely men from different centuries “lit up the world.” In the process, he creates a lively, stimulating rumination on the creativity, flamboyance, discipline, and soul it takes to produce great art.