Thursday, December 11, 2008

O Christmas Tree

My early Christmas memories include an aluminum tree with red bulbs. Yes, aluminum. It was only about three feet tall and had branches with silver aluminum foil needles. Didn't even need to hang tinsel on it; just the red bulbs, crown it with the top ornament and it was done. We'd also put a red lightbulb in a small lamp and shine it on the tree for effect.

Hardly a realistic Christmas tree, but its the memories it holds that make it endearing for me, regardless of composition. I so wanted lights on the tree, however. My mom told me you can't put lights on an aluminum tree because they wouldn't work, but I didn't believe her so I kept nagging her about it. It made no sense to me - if the cord was insulated, then what difference should it make what material the tree was made from?

Finally she gave in and we strung lights on the tree. We plugged them in and.. nothing. My mom had been right. I was in disbelief. I was sure the lights would come on and we'd have one beautiful sparkling aluminum tree but it didn't happen.

During high school began a string of fresh, real trees. Well, as fresh a tree as you can get when you roll the dice with being in Southern California and its heat waves. Nothing compares with the smell of fresh Christmas trees, does it?

But after many years, not long after we moved into our present abode, we decided to go the artificial route. The increasing price of trees, the hassle of trying to transport it home, maintenance and the trail of needles it left all over the place tipped the scale the other way. We found a decent one at WalMart and brought it home. Of course your nose will immediately tell you the tree is fake, but sight-wise, unless you are close up it is hard to tell if the tree is real or not.

Disposing of a real tree can be problematic as well. I guess that's why some people put it off as long as possible. I can remember driving down a Monterey Park street and seeing a discarded tree waiting for the next day's rubbish pickup. In July.

Anyway, it's not the tree per se, but what it stands for and the memories associated with it. The Christmas season has always been my favorite time of the year and I always love listening to Christmas carols. A lament I've had through the years has been that it doesn't seem like Christmas - not like when we were little when Christmas vacation seemed so long and the anticipation built up day by day. These days as I try and get into the season, it goes all too quickly and is gone.

So here's hoping that this feels like a true Christmas season for everyone. I'll be posting some memories of Christmas past in the upcoming days and hoping we don't have a heat wave!

Whoever is reading this, may you have a truly blessed and merry Christmas!

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