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 décor.

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

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