Alfie’s a Cub-Scout and part of what he does as a Cub is fundraise for the organisation. That’s not a taxing task as there’s actually only one fundraiser a year and it’s the sale of Christmas trees. Last year was the first year Alfie and I assisted the Scouts by standing in a prominent place in our community and selling the trees. And we loved it.
This year Alfie and I drew the short-straw and had to be there at 5am to help unload the trees off the truck. Love an early start! Unfortunately I have a condition where if I have to be up early I wake about two hours before my alarm and then lie there getting worked up about how much sleep I’m missing out on.
On Saturday morning I woke when it was still pitch-black and I checked the time and saw it was only 3.30am. Unbelievable. I lay there until 4am and knowing there was no way I’d fall back to sleep I went down to the kitchen and started decorating a few more Christmas cakes. May as well be productive.
I woke Alfie at the last possible moment and after a juice we headed outside and walked to the place where the scouts have been selling the trees for many, many years. The trees had been cut down at 2am and then loaded onto a truck and driven from the Southern Highlands to Sydney. The truck had already arrived at its destination and was being unloaded. Alfie and I rushed to help the unloading of the remaining 150 trees.
The sale of the Christmas trees is well advertised and well known so we made our first sale before 6.30am. Some people rise early – I might be up at that time but certainly not ready to leave the house.
It wasn’t all that warm and before the rush I went across the road and bought us a bacon and egg roll and a couple of hot chocolates. Of course Alfie was saying, ‘I don’t want anything’ but I bought him some breakfast anyway.
By 8am we were run off our feet by the friendliest and most lovely people who thanked us for what we were doing for the Scouts and often paid over and above the asking price as they said the money was going to a very good cause. Everyone arrived with smiles and wished us a Merry Christmas and it was a special time of feeling very much a part of a community.
Unfortunately, there’s always one person who behaves in the opposite way. I saw a young couple with a baby looking at the trees and so I went up to them with a smile and asked, ‘Can I help you?’
And the man looked at me with a glare and replied, ‘Well do you have any expertise?’
I was slightly flawed by his response but launched into a spiel saying, ‘The trees you’re looking at have been discounted because they were cut down last week, however, if you saw off some of the trunk and give the tree a big drink it will come right’.
‘So are you saying the tree will be dead before Christmas?’ he demanded.
‘No, with a bit of care it should last until the New Year’.
‘Well then that’s all you needed to say’. And then he spoke to his wife as rudely as he was speaking to me so I just backed up and let him choose a tree without any of my ‘expertise’.
But it would be wrong to focus on that one chap who needed a swift kick of Christmas spirit because everyone else appreciated that we’re all just volunteers trying to help out one of the world’s best and most successful organisations and doing it with or without ‘expertise’.
After seven hours of selling trees (where we sold our entire shipment plus extras that were delivered later), our shift was relieved by the afternoon replacements. It had been a great experience and Alfie loved his volunteering. We headed home to decorate our own Christmas tree.
And tonight I was at a pub watching a band perform. I saw a couple walk in with their two-year old daughter and a newborn baby. I went over to their table and said, ‘So how’s your Christmas tree?’ She looked at me kind of shocked and then recognition spread across her face and she said, ‘Oh, you sold me our tree!
We laughed about the coincidence and she told me how delighted she is with her purchase.
The whole experience was positive and Alfie and I had a very worthwhile day being swept up with the Christmas spirit that spread amongst our community.