On a whim one Sunday, years ago when our girls were little, DH and I went to a liquidation auction in Sooke. Much drama ensued, and we returned home that day the proud owners of several boxes of random Christmas decorations, the entire seasonal detritus of a defunct hardware store. It was our first auction experience and it was a doozy.

When we got to the store that morning we had no idea that we would shortly be participants in an event that would impact all our Christmases to come. We innocently wandered around checking out the goods, DH spotting one or two lots of tools he was interested in. Then the bidding started. As we waited for his lots, the first of two Christmas lots came up. It included everything on one whole side of a two-sided display unit. The auctioneer started off at $30 but no one seemed interested. At all. He wheedled and pleaded but still zero interest. So he dropped to $20 and tried again. Nothing. “Oh why not” I thought to myself “that’s a real good deal plus it will be fun for the kids!”, and I nudged DH to bid. He did! And no one outbid us! And all of a sudden oh my gosh the whole lot was ours!

As we were digesting our delight, and feeling quite the seasoned auction pros, the auctioneer started the bidding at $20 on the second lot, the other side of the afore-mentioned display unit. We held back, pleased with our take (only twenty bucks!!); we didn’t need to bid on this one. A pair of women immediately bid, but no one else challenged. It looked like they were going to get the second lot for super cheap like we did!

The auctioneer kept trying to get something going, to start someone else bidding, but no one went for it. That was when he lost his temper, slamming his hands down on the counter, then pointing at the two women in disgust, “I saw what you did!” he sneered. “Moving all the good stuff into this lot and putting all the crap in the first lot! Yeah, I know what you’re up to!”

“So…we’re gonna go with auctioneer’s prerogative here! Sir?” he snapped, turning to us, “you took the first lot, so I’m giving you dibs, would you like to take the second lot for $20 too? We stared blankly at him for a moment as howls erupted from the two women. The rest of the crowd stood silently, no doubt enjoying the drama. Then… “sure!” we agreed. I mean how could we not? I was on the auctioneer’s side anyway. Naive us hadn’t noticed those two ladies’ pre-auction shenanigans. But the auctioneer had. Probably everyone else had too, and that was why nobody but us bid on the first lot.

The argument went on for a bit, the women loudly protesting about the unfairness of it all, and saying he couldn’t do that, and the auctioneer giving them hell for cheating, and saying he could do whatever he bloody well wanted. It ended with the two cheaters being bounced from the auction. We hung around till the end, happily paid for and collected our two lots, and headed home, feeling like we really did well at our first auction.

We shared our largess with family and friends, and that Christmas, we went whole hog, putting up every speck of those decorations, along with all the stuff we already had. The results were over the top and the kids LOVED it.

Little did we know that we had set the bar so high, we would spend every Christmas for the next 25 years doing the same. It’s just part of our tradition now, and thank goodness everyone pitches in to help. The ladder work especially takes longer than it used to. Some of the decorations have disintegrated over the years, and some I conveniently “lost” (spray snow and window stencils…NEVER again), but we still have plenty of mementoes of that long ago auction in Sooke.

Last year, with one of our three daughters unable to make it home thanks to Covid restrictions, we were more subdued, some boxes stayed under the stairs. But this year, over the past couple weeks, our wonderful children have all pitched in to help, and the place looks crazy Christmas, as always. We are ready, and excited, because this year, with everyone vaccinated and living much closer, we will all be together again. ❤️ I can’t wait. ❤️