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From Xmas Tree to Ex-mas Tree

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To everything there is a season. A time to be born, a time to die. A time to plant, a time to reap. A time to erect a dead tree in the corner of your living room, a time to take that dead tree down and stick it on the curb in the rain. They may call them "evergreens" but by the second week of January those Christmas trees are looking pretty grim.

Of course, it's hard to look good when you're sitting on the curb next to a trash can and a recycling bin, a few strands of tinsel hanging limply from your dried branches, like colorful ribbons pathetically trying to dress up the hair of a hospice resident. I imagine that if these pines and firs and spruces possessed any vestigial consciousness they would find the holidays confusing:

Ouch! I've been cut down! I feel my life force ebbing, but as it wanes I am placed in a position of honor, decorated and worshipped in a timeless neo-pagan ritual. I feel exultation! What's this? Stripped of my colorful raiment I am dragged from the house and dumped in the street. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

So it's probably just as well that trees can't talk.

I noticed that this year a lot of friends and relatives put up artificial trees. I've always considered such a thing a sacrilege. I mean, why not eat a Tofurkey while you're at it. But I'm wondering if this may have been the last Christmas where I troll a Christmas tree lot. The fact is "live" trees aren't as good as they used to be. Mainly, they don't smell anymore. (I looked into this a few years back. That piney scent many of us associate with our childhoods came from trees being stressed. The drier they were, the more they smelled. Now trees are cut later, transported closer to Christmas and kept wetter in our homes. The result: They're practically odorless.)

And with a fake tree I won't have that sad moment where I take the husk out to the street, the shower of needles falling all over the floor as I muscle it through the door then drag it to the curb where it becomes an undignified relic, a sad reminder of our mortality.

Speaking of Odor...
I don't know what to say about the fact that yesterday's blogpost garnered more comments than just about anything I've blogged about. Have I overestimated the interests of my audience? Although what actually impressed me the most was the level of sophistication that commenters showed toward the various linguistic nuances of "passing gas." Thank you. Merci. Danke.

Tiny Dancer
If you've read a magazine in the last couple of years you've no doubt seen tilt-shift photography. It's a photographic technique that makes the subject look like a little toy. It's very cool and slightly disorienting. This morning I came across an example of tilt-shift video, or perhaps tilt-shift animation is more accurate. According to the Telegraph, artist Keith Loutit strung together 15,000 tilt-shift photos he took at a monster truck rally in Australia. The result is stunning:


By John Kelly  |  January 6, 2009; 9:19 AM ET
 | Tags: Christmas, video  
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Next: Get Your Motor Runnin': Kids Behind the Wheel

Comments

The great think about artificial trees is that instead of hauling them to the curb, you get to haul them to the basement or the attic. Actually, the "pre-lit" tree is possibly the very apex of haute holiday decoration. I've waited, so far in vain, for the "pre-dec" tree designed to easily fit the stairway to my basement. I'm also reconsidering whether being called "white trash" by my neighbors is a sufficient deterrent to leaving the outside lights up and in the shrubs and trees all year.

Posted by: mfromalexva | January 6, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

"like colorful ribbons pathetically trying to dress up the hair of a hospice resident"

John, I really am not the type to take offense at what's written in the paper or on the blogs, but this seems a bit insensitive. Surely you could have found something else to compare to a dead Christmas tree than a person dying in hospice care??

Posted by: NatsPhan123 | January 6, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

I used to experience excessive deadness from my lot-purchased trees until I wised up and read the WaPo's "cut your own" article that runs every year in Weekend. Since then, I've had no trouble, and the branches are still fairly supple when I send it out to be mulched. Since the tree farms are fairly far out, this may not be a viable solution for a city dweller such as yourself, but it would get you out a little.

Art Buchwald would have loved your hospice reference. Also, I passed your gas comments along to Weingarten. I am sure he is trembling in his boots.

Posted by: reddragon1 | January 6, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I used to experience excessive deadness from my lot-purchased trees until I wised up and read the WaPo's "cut your own" article that runs every year in Weekend. Since then, I've had no trouble, and the branches are still fairly supple when I send it out to be mulched. Since the tree farms are fairly far out, this may not be a viable solution for a city dweller such as yourself, but it would get you out a little.

Art Buchwald would have loved your hospice reference. Also, I passed your gas comments along to Weingarten. I am sure he is trembling in his boots.

Posted by: reddragon1 | January 6, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

After all those comments yesterday, did anyone actually wish you good health? I do herewith.

Posted by: OldLady1 | January 6, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I recently read in the WaPo that in terms of environmental friendliness, a live tree that you plant after Christmas is best, next is a cut tree, then an artificial tree (because of the oil used in making them). It said that if you already have an artificial tree, keep using it, but if you don't yet have one, don't get one. I have felt guilty for years that I didn't get a fake tree (lack of space)--now I feel that I am environmentally friendly!

As far as getting rid of them goes, when we took our tree down, my daughter was brushing the branches to get the needles to fall on the carpet--because "we are going to vacuum anyway." So she vacuumed.

Posted by: janedoe5 | January 7, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

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