Laughter ensued. Loud laughter in fact.
In fact the kind of laughter that upon diminishing, would have normally seen said sales assistant beckon to other sales staff to come gather for a good old laugh at the silly Brit.
Once the laughter stopped she pointed over to a small stand in the corner.
"That's what we have left," she said still smirking.
Had it not been the 'season of good will', I would have slammed my sticky iced cinnamon roll in her face.
Believe me I thought about it.
But instead I strolled over to the stand with Jacks now in tow.
"What did she say?" Jacks asked.
"That's all they have left," I answered.
Now I was warned about the 'holiday season' starting on Thanksgiving - aka November 28th - but I admit, I didn't really pay much attention.
I didn't hear the start gun, Christmas isn't a sprint... it's a marathon. Surely, I thought.
It seems that Christmas does indeed start on Thanksgiving... midnight on Thanksgiving Eve to be exact.
Overnight every retailer under the warm Californian night sky puts up every twinkly glittery decoration they can lay their hands on.
Overnight San Diego becomes a Santa's grotto.
As I've since explained to many American people here, traditionally retailers in the UK 'kick off' Christmas and it's frenzied consumer-led chaos in November.
For many people in the UK, Christmas doesn't really feel like, well... 'Christmas', until at least December 20th.
This is normally around the time when you read leaked details of the Queen's Christmas Day speech in the national tabloid press, and the likely inclusion of 'Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom' and 'Love Actually' in the TV listings (AGAIN).
Up until then it's Christmas for the sake of Christmas. It's only when families begin to come together that our traditional UK Christmas begins.
So there we were trying to buy a Christmas tree, some fairy lights and some baubles, on December 7th - two-and-a-half WEEKS before Christmas Day.
But it didn't matter.
We were late for Christmas.
A deep-rooted feeling of regret and sadness filled our tummies.
Had we seriously missed the boat? We didn't get the memo! Had that ship largely sailed?!
Fortunately (because every Christmas story has got to have a happy ending right?) we found a bunch of people selling Christmas trees in the parking lot (or 'car park' as we call them).
And then of course the traditional husband-wife conversation began...
Me: "Which one do you fancy?"
Jacky: "That one!"
Me: "That's way too big."
Jacky: "THAT one."
Me: "Look at the size of the tree's TRUNK."
Jacky: "Okay... THAT one. It's small compared to the other ones."
Me: "Well, it's smaller than the other one..."
$20 = bargain.
Now, I should mention at this point that we currently don't have a car here, and we usually rely solely on the good nature of friends and public transport.
Everyone else who bought a tree from that parking lot picked up their trees, placed them on carts and pushed or pulled them to their nearby cars.
As we didn't have a car to push or pull a cart to, I opted to carry the monster.
Of course being a man - a man who shirks at the idea of carrying two grocery store bags in favour of ALL of them at once (because I'm a man and that's what men do - albeit stupidly) - I hoisted the tree up and onto my shoulder, nearly taking out the tree-selling staff in the process as I spun around to locate the nearest trolley (San Diego's train) stop.
|No I can't hold THAT pose|
'Did Jacks help...?' I hear you ask...
Not unless by 'helping' you mean by taking photos and laughing uncontrollably.
All that was going through my head was 'it's our first Christmas as a married couple, it's our first Christmas as a married couple'.
With friends out of town and unreachable, we decided to try and use the trolley to get the bloody thing home.
Cue further comedy.
There are signs, clear signs, on just about every trolley carriage stating the size of things which may or may not be carried on said trolley.
Somehow, in the listing they forgot to mention that 'no Christmas tree over seven feet tall and three feet wide should be allowed on board'.
Yep, they missed the trick there.
Clearly no-one would be crazy enough to attempt such a feat...? That is until last Saturday.
So there I was at the trolley stop, roughly ten stops from the nearest stop to home, thinking there is no WAY we are going to be allowed on the trolley with this beast.
|"Not a chance..." or so I thought|
But then magic happened. The trolley arrived, we got on (well, I 'stumbled' on), I wedged the tree up against a seat and the trolley's ceiling and I smiled at the other passengers pretending that it was the most normal thing in the world to do.
The 'magic' revolved around two transport police looking up at us, and simply ignoring the tree.
|"Nothing to see here..."|
It was a strange moment. It was like it was invisible.
And as weird as the rest of the journey was, it was also wonderful in equal measure.
In our crazy randomness we brought a fair amount of Christmas cheer to that carriage attracting smiles and nods of approval from every passenger who happened to get on, or off.
A couple of people commented about how great the tree smelt.
"It's smells like Christmas," one man said before thanking us.
|Are we nearly home yet...?|
So yes, we made it 'home' seemingly leaving half of the tree's needles on the trolley, in the elevator, and along the passageway to the front door.
Once in the apartment I grappled with the tree to raise it up, cut the string which had held it so tightly together, and then looked on with some amount of smugness as my aforementioned views were realised that this was indeed no 'small' tree.
|Oh dear lord...|
"Oh my gosh..." Jacky said.
Long story cut short... it looks amazing.
We found some baubles (around 60) from a store across the road at a discounted price because it's 'past-season' (?!) and we bought 75ft (yes... 25ft x 25ft x 25ft = 75ft!!!!!) of lights.
I could have covered my entire house in England with that length of lighting!
It does look pukka.
|Twinkle twinkle in the Casa de los Nichols|
America does Christmas well.
And now, so do we.
Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to go and be horizontal for a while and try to soothe this aching back.
Happy holidays everyone!