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Life Happens: Is this what they mean by Christmas in July?

HAMBURG — I thought I’d go out this past weekend and pick up a few things for my yard. It’s finally not raining and the weather is nice. It is also the beginning of August. I didn’t think this was a problem, but I found out that timing is everything, when buying things for summer.

After living in my house for almost 30 years, I am finally putting a patio on the back. One cannot put a patio on without buying a few things to go onto it. Otherwise, it’s just a lonely concrete slab. I wanted to find some kind of outdoor canopy, maybe a grill and perhaps a few other outdoor, summery things I never knew I needed before.

I went to the local big box home and garden store. What I discovered was that there were no canopies to be had.

The helpful sales guy told me that I was shopping for summer stuff at the completely wrong time. “Summer things, like canopies and grills, go on sale in March, you know,” he said.

He added, in a conspiratorial whisper, “We’re actually setting up the Christmas stuff in the back, right now.”

I suddenly missed summer. I hadn’t realized that it was all over by the end of July. Or maybe it’s Christmas in July. I am so confused.

For one minute, I thought I heard Christmas carols in my head. But sanity returned and I went to the next big box home and garden store. Surely someone must have summer things for sale in the actual summertime.

The next big home store had one pergola-type canopy, as a floor model. I asked if they had any more in stock. “That’s the only one we’ve got. You’re not going to find any canopies around here now,” the salesman said.

I told him I knew. “The summer season is over,” I sighed.

“That’s right,” he said. “You can have the floor model, though.”

I looked at it. I could tell that it had been around since March. There was a rip in one corner of the canopy and the paint was scratched. “We’ll give you half price for it,” I said. After all, they were going to need the space for all the Christmas trees waiting in the wings. He looked at me like I was crazy.

Apparently, even though the season is over, out-of-season merchandise is still full price, even if it’s beat up and has seen a season come and go. Even if there is an acre of artificial trees and ornaments that will be making their appearance, in the very near future.

Eventually, they gave me a discount for the ripped canopy and offered to dismantle the thing, so I could rent a truck from them and take it off their hands. Of course, there were no assembly instructions for it. Who would be assembling it now, when it’s so out of season?

But I bought it and drove away. Out there in the bright, warm sunshine of July, common sense came back to me. “Yes, it is still summer,” I reassured myself. “We still have six – eight weeks to enjoy our canopy and our new patio. Christmas is not right around the corner.”

I hope, anyway. However, next time I need summer merchandise, I will start looking for it in March.

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