Friday, November 28, 2008

Decoration Decisions Branch in Many Directions

It’s an interesting odor, the combination of pine trees and diesel fuel. It reminds me of a truck stop in the High Sierras. But this was the heart of North Texas, without a Douglas Fir for miles.

On this night, a semi-truck wound its way through Frisco Square to the small plot of land cleared the weekend before by a hundred pairs of eager hands. Flood lights hung from constructed poles. Empty stakes marched in neat ranks. Colored lights shed just the right touch of seasonal cheer.

It’s Christmas tree time, and the Boy Scouts of Troop 51 are ready to provide Frisco-ites (Friscoans?) with everything from a four foot Douglas Fir to a fifteen foot Scots Pine.

A quaint little tradition, the Christmas tree. Co-opted from the pagan rituals of northern Europe, it has little to do with the folks around Bethlehem that form the basis of the Christmas celebration. Which may explain why some families opt for a Hanukkah bush at this time of year. Others find comfort in a Solstice Shrub. Whatever you put in your home, there are a few important controversies that must be addressed.

Alright, let’s get the biggie out of the way first, shall we? Real or Fake? Some folks are happy to go out and buy a new tree every year, lugging it home only to watch the needles start to pile up on the floor within a couple of hours. Others forgo the scent of pine, while enjoying the simplicity of pulling the plastic tree out of its box and popping it up like an umbrella. Ambiance versus convenience. Me? I’ll take convenience any day.

Now, where to put the tree? In years past, the only spot most families had to put their tree was smack dab in the middle of the living room. That would be the old-fashioned living room, where people actually lived. These days, most Frisco homes have a mis-labeled “formal living room” which usually contains a variety of furniture, but is rarely actually occupied. This makes a nice spot for a “tree shrine,” but it doesn’t do much to generate Christmas cheer.

Next up: lighting. Growing up, our trees always had a hodge-podge of lights scattered around. Depending upon how enthusiastic my dad was that year, we might have one strand of single color bulbs stuck in there, or a clump of color in one area. These days I prefer a more monochromatic look. “All white” is the look for me. Somehow I think it captures the glow of a bright moon glinting off new fallen snow.

What about your tree topper? Angel or star (5 or 6 pointed, depending upon your rabbinical persuasion)? Years ago, my mother gave me an antique tree topper from her native Bavaria. It’s neither an angel nor a star. In fact, it kind of defies description, other than, as my then 4 year old put it, “that pointy, sparkly thing.”

I suppose tastes change over the years. But with Christmas trees, it seems tradition is king. Look at a picture of a tree from 1900 and chances are it’ll look a lot like the one standing in your home. But there have been a few notable (if forgettable) trends. I recall as a child dreading putting up the tree because that meant decking it with those silver tinsel strands. And Mom was a stickler for making sure hung each one separately… no clumping up! Then, there was that brief fling with “flocking.” People longing for a snow covered Tannenbaum could have their tree covered in a white… something. And then there was that late 60’s fling with aluminum trees. (shudder)

Whatever your tastes, the time has come to deck the halls. Whether you celebrate Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Kwanza or the Solstice, surely a little greenery can put a bit of nature in your holiday d├ęcor.

Boy Scout Troop 51 tree lots are located in front of Frisco Square and on Preston Road, just north of Stonebrook Parkway. They’ll be open evenings and weekends until the 9pm most nights until December 21st (or when all the trees are gone). View their website at http://www.friscotroop51.org.

Friday, November 14, 2008

10 Reasons I Love Living in Frisco Texas

My dad came to town last week. This in and of itself isn’t notable, though it’s the first time he’s visited in the 9 years we’ve lived in Frisco. No, the surprise came when he announced that he’d like to look at houses while he was down.

Born and bred in the scenic grandeur of the Pacific Northwest, my father is now thinking of relocating to dry, treeless North Texas. Granted he spent several years in this area during his time in the military, but I never imagined him spending his golden years among the sagebrush and wheat fields of the Great Plains.

So that got me thinking. I’m pretty happy here in Frisco. What is it about this area that makes it such a great place to hang my hat (10-gallon or otherwise)? After some consideration I came up with the following list of the 10 things (in no certain order) I like most about living in Frisco:

Curtsinger Elementary, Wester Middle School and the entire FISD – As with many of our fellow transplants, one of the reasons my wife and I chose Frisco was its exemplary school system. We haven’t been disappointed. Even with the rapid rate of growth we’ve experienced, FISD has kept pace and maintained a quality learning experience.

Pizza Hut Park and FC Dallas – I’m a sports nut, so I was thrilled when they broke ground on Pizza Hut Park. Soccer may not be my favorite sport, but I’ve learned to appreciate it a lot more following the Hoops.

Honorable mention: The Roughriders, the Thunder, the Tornados, the FFL. (See: Nut, Sports)

New Restaurants every month! – If I’m not watching sports, chances are I’m dining out. Okay, that’s not exactly true. Mrs. Line is a dandy chef, and I’m not too bad myself. But we both love checking out the latest eateries in the area. And this year has seen a spectacular boom in the number of unique (read: not a national chain) choices. My favorite this week? Coach Joe’s. Try the Buffalo Chicken sandwich.

George Purefoy and the City Councils (past and present) – Frisco, and exurbs like it across the country, face a unique challenge. Population growth can quickly outpace infrastructure development. But if you try to anticipate the growth, and the pattern shifts, you’re left with underutilized resources, while necessary services can’t be built. Fortunately for us, we’ve had some pretty savvy folks at the helm over the years. For the most part, we’ve gotten the roads and schools we need when we’ve needed them. And there aren’t many examples of city investments that have gone unused. So all in all, hats off to City Manager George Purefoy and numerous elected officials over the years who have kept us on the right track.

Our community and neighborhood parks – I recently took a walk through one of the “older” parks in town: Shawnee Trails. While it’s certainly showing some age, it’s still a very nice facility. The fact that many people complain about it has a lot to do with the fact that they’re comparing it to Warren Park, Bacchus Park and our newest gem, BF Phillips. We’ve got some really great community parks around that meet the recreation needs of a HUGE youth population. Beyond that, almost every neighborhood contains a smaller park, most of which are heads and shoulders above those I grew up with. Some may gripe that we spend too much on our parks, but I think they add greatly to our quality of life in Frisco.

No shortage of Banks! – Drive down Preston Road. Swing stick. Hit bank. Repeat.

The Frisco Library – I think libraries are possibly the third or fourth greatest invention in human history (I’m still weighing the whole sliced bread thing). Imagine a place where you can go browse through shelf after shelf of novels, references, autobiographies, and just about any other kind of printed material in existence. But our library is so much more than that. It’s a place to meet. A place to research. A place to learn. I’ve spent time in libraries all over the nation, and this one stacks up to any of them.

Poker night – After several years and attempts, we finally have a core group of guys that gets together every other week for a game. Some nights the conversation is controversial and heated. Others we just sit back and tell stupid jokes (ask Bryan about his prom date). But mostly, it’s a time to share the company of friends. Oh… and play some cards. For fun. Not for money. That would be illegal.

The Folks – At the end of the day, it’s really about the people. Ask 20 Texans what they like about living here - or 42 Yankees why they like visiting - and chances are most of them will comment on how friendly the people are. And it’s true. Whether I’m out shopping or just driving through the neighborhood, rarely does a day go by in Frisco without getting a smile and a wave from people I know, or don’t know.

So that’s the short list. I’d love to hear from you on the things that make Frisco your home. Visit the Frisco Line’s blog and submit your favorite things. Or, just drop me a note to say “Howdy.” It’s a Texas thing.