June 29, 2022

Oh Tannenbaum, Oh Christmas Tree

Rehoboth Ramblings


Will finding the perfect live Christmas tree be a problem this year? (I am writing this before Thanksgiving so I can’t comment from personal experience just yet.) Last year we ended up with a Charlie Brown Christmas tree at our house so I suppose we could settle for another one this year. With all we have been through the past couple of years, individually and as a society, finding the perfect tree for the holidays seems like a minor problem to me.

Driving around after dark in mid-November, I saw a number of Christmas trees glowing in living room windows already. This seemed early to me; I presume these must be artificial trees. I haven’t really looked for any of these either, but the Christmas catalogs are full of them. For a while there, we seemed to be off everyone’s mailing list but now it’s obvious with our over-stuffed mailbox that we’re back to where we were a few years ago. This is especially aggravating now that paper recycling is not as easy as it once was.

The Hammacher Schlemmer catalog has several types of pre-lit (the word artificial is not used) Christmas trees for sale in sizes from 4 to 12 feet, from $300 to $2000. In the Vermont Country Store holiday catalog, those nostalgic for a mid-century modern (aka the early 1960’s) holiday look can find a “feathery silver tinsel tree” (I believe we used to call them aluminum trees) with a lighted color wheel extra. Or you can get one in pink for that Southern California look. Yesterday’s latest trend is today’s nostalgia.

We always had a live Christmas tree back when I was young and still do today. Decorating trees has gotten a lot easier over the past 60-plus years. All of us of a certain age can remember our fathers struggling with the Christmas lights many years ago. If one bulb was out so was every bulb on the string. You had to check them all to find out which one it was. Then there was the tinsel or icicles, as we referred to the shiny foil strips that were the final touch to our decorating. Be careful not to clump them all together! Putting these on/taking them off the tree was a bit of a chore. No wonder icicles fell out of favor.

Note the appearance of Christmas trees in so many old movies; they are all so covered with tinsel you can hardly see the tree underneath. Hollywood really loved a Christmas scene in the movies in those days. Today there are more holiday movies than you can count, most of them not worth watching. A New Year’s Eve party was always a popular theme in the movies too. Fond as I am of Christmas, I can ignore New Year’s entirely and usually do. Maybe this dates back to my childhood when January 1 was always the day to take the tree down. Besides, who needs to rejoice over the passage of time?

Speaking of an old-timey look for Christmas, my husband has a sentimental attachment to those bubble lights from the 1950’s so we still use a few of those on the tree along with regular colored lights. The only color I’m not crazy about in holiday lights is blue because it seems too cold to me, but to each his/her own. I like to think of our Christmas decorations as having a retro or vintage holiday look. Just the right way to display treasured ornaments of days gone by.

At the holidays, we always get a chuckle looking back at the time our daughter (then about 6) apparently heard “Oh Tannenbaum” as “oh time bomb”.  Well, yes, she did think that was an odd and scary thing to sing about at Christmas. And every time the holidays start to seem like too much, we jokingly threaten to celebrate a real, old-fashioned New England Christmas (like the Puritans, who did not celebrate it at all).

 But to return to the Christmas tree: “Oh Tannenbaum, Oh Christmas tree, how lovely are thy branches”. This equally lovely old German carol sure captures the beauty of the season better than, say, “Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree.”


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