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Life Happens: Is this Christmas in August?

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’s also the middle 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’m finally putting a patio on the back. One cannot put a patio on, however, without buying a few things to go on it. Otherwise, it’s just a concrete slab. I wanted to find some kind of outdoor canopy, maybe a grill and a few other outdoor, summery things I never knew I needed, before.

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

The helpful salesperson told us that we were shopping for summer stuff at the 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.”

For one minute, I thought I heard Christmas carols in my head. But sanity returned, and we 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. We 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.

“We know,” we sighed. “The summer season is over.”

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

We looked at it. We 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 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 us a discount for the ripped canopy, and offered to dismantle the thing, so we 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, we bought it and drove it away. Out there in the bright, warm sunshine of July, common sense came back to us. “Yes, it is still summer,” we reassured ourselves. “We still have six – eight weeks to enjoy our canopy and our new patio. Christmas is not right around the corner.”

We hope, anyway. However, next time we need summer merchandise, we’ll start looking for it in March.

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