The stand

Most people maintain a brief, seasonal relationship with their Christmas tree stand. Set it on the living room floor, clamp in the tree, then throw the stand down the basement stairs until the next year.

Not us. We enjoy our tree stand year-round.

One January years ago, we escorted the tree on its ceremonial walk-of-shame down the hallway, a needly path in its wake. And ultimately, we dumped the tree in the woods. But the tree stand never made it past the front porch. There it sat, gathering debris and rainwater.

I meant to store it properly but weeks and months passed. In the spring I hid an easter egg in its center and in the summer, I nudged it away from the screen door, as I sidled by with a tray of food for the grill. In the fall I didn’t think twice as I set our Halloween pumpkins by the tree-hugging holder. The next thing I knew, the days were short and chilly, the farm covered in frost and it was time to retrieve the stand again.

Christmas came and went and the tree stand returned to its porch perch, to await snow, spring flowers, summer storms, autumn leaves…

Each summer our friends called us out on our redneck-ness. But I didn’t care. When the holidays rolled around, we were ready to go.

Until a few days ago. It turned out that our fancy new porch was furnished only with fancy new furniture. With dismay I noticed the absence of our plastic mascot. Panicked, I pawed through the attic, cellar, christmas decoration boxes. No luck.

Then I stopped to think… think like a redneck. Just because we’d upgraded to a fancy porch with fancy furniture didn’t mean that we’d abandoned our old habits. So I hunted around until I found our trusty Christmas tree stand….

…in the ivy alongside the house. Under our satellite dish. Near the propane tank.


In January, I promise that the stand will return to its rightful home.

Kountry kasual

My plan is fool-proof:

1. double park in front of daycare
2. bolt through door
3. snatch children.

Mission accomplished before anyone notices my outfit: transparent tank top (bra also on display), board shorts (from mid-day leap in pool) and chunky, dirt-stained flip flops. To top it off, I smell like I’ve been mucking stalls.

Because I’ve been mucking stalls.

The daycare people won’t notice. I’m one of those irritating parents who rides the line between closing time and being late. I pull up, brakes screeching around 5:57. They practically shove me out the door.

So this day is no different except that I look — and smell — especially disheveled. But that doesn’t matter.

Until my cell phone rings. Justin’s mom is running late, Martin says. Can you get Justin and hang out until she gets there?

Of course I’m happy to help another last-minute parent — spare her the late fee and the dirty looks. But here’s the rub: once you’re booted out the daycare door, there’s nowhere to go. Except the grocery store next door.

Like everything else in Sticksville, the store isn’t a bastion of fashion. Many a farmer has ducked in wearing mud-splattered carhartts. It ain’t the big city and you can slide by with a little grunge.

Still, I feel especially trashy as I roll down the aisles, pushing 2 kids and a spare — all in the toddler age range — while trying to conceal my revealing tank top and flee the distinctive aroma of horse pee.

I’ll give the kids credit: they minimize the embarrassment level. Plied with goldfish, they keep the yelling to a dull roar. We only elicit a few smirks and one raised eyebrow from an uptight granny feeling up the tomatoes in the produce section.

We didn’t even need food so I breeze up and down a few aisles before I can’t stall any longer. Holding my head high, I present mac n’ cheese and a 6-pack of Heineken to the cashier.

Fortunately Justin’s mom appears to collect her kid, dispelling the appearance that I not only dress like Britney Spears, but get knocked up just as often.

I shouldn’t care what other people think. But maybe it’s time to reform my last-minute ways. Or at least keep a spare shirt — and deodorant — in the car.

Redneck conversion complete

Any vestiges of my Yuppie upbringing have officially disappeared. I’ve been asked to turn in my Nordstrom’s card, avert my eyes when a beemer drives by, and stay up-county where I belong. We are, in a word, redneck-a-fied.

Ignore the fact that Martin considers clean cargo pants evening attire.

Or that I took the kid to a party without any shoes.

Or that I’ve got a baseball cap permanently attached to my head.

That a weekend jaunt to the dump and Tractor Supply constitutes a road trip.

That entertainment is watching the kids play naked in a pothole after a rainstorm.

That I wear spurs when I shop for groceries.

Or that we’re a two pickup family.

That people identify our house simply as “the one with the sheep.”

Shove aside all those facts. The brief exchange I had with my barefoot 3-year-old sums it up.

We were at a friend’s house when Cayden waved his hand down around his knees. With wonder he asked:

“Mom, what is this air blowing out of the wall?”

me: “That would be air conditioning.”

Okay, so our house isn’t jacked up on wheels. But we’re gittin a little close to double wide livin, y’all.

young Redneckius Americanus photographed in their natural habitat