Wednesday, December 07, 2011
MY WIFE bought me a Christmas tree. It is silver and shiny and I love it.
There will be a photo later. Be patient. In the meantime, here are a few of the Christmas trees I've known and loved.
This is not my new shiny silver tree. This is a really old shiny silver tree. It belonged to my Grandma and Grandpa, on my Mother's side, and the first time I saw it, I thought they had both lost their marbles. My eight-year-old brain could not process the idea of a tree that wasn't green, smelling of pine, and otherwise real and traditional. I was a staunchly conservative eight-year-old. Anyway, there it was in their living room, with the only lights on it coming from one of those spinning disks of color (which is not seen in that photo, but here's one, anyway...)
(MY WIFE also bought one of these for use with my shiny new silver tree. You'll see the whole shebang later, I promise.)
Well, once I got used to my grandparent's weird aluminum tree, it was kind of cool and I looked forward to seeing it each year. Having such a thing in a house full of people who love you - and give you presents - will tend to make you like it more, I think. I've had fond memories of it for many years, but the last remaining vestige of the thing is the photo I showed you. The tree itself is long gone.
(But, I have a shiny NEW tree of silver, AND a color wheel! Hang on, pardner! We'll get to it.)
The person standing next to this somewhat odd-looking bush is Aunt Pat, my great aunt, sister of my grandfather on my father's side, a.k.a. Aunt Agnes to some others in the family. You may ask why she was Aunt Pat to me and Aunt Agnes to others. It seems that she did not actually care for the name Agnes, and had decided that she would prefer Patricia. I never knew she had the name "Agnes" until I was a teenager, so she was apparently pretty successful in convincing me that her name was Pat.
(Aunt Pat had an outstanding physical characteristic that I found utterly fascinating as a child - one of her eyes was a milky sort of light blue, while the other was hazel or brown. This came about via an accident at the eye doctor. He mistakenly put ether into her eye and she was immediately blinded on that side, permanently. To show you the non-litigious nature of things in those days, she did not immediately sue him for everything he owned, which she no doubt would have had a chance at if she had sued, but instead just chalked it up to a human mistake and went on with her life. Can you imagine that happening now? No, neither can I, not even at Christmas.)
This Christmas tree was at my paternal grandparent's apartment in Roslindale. From the curtains, the wallpaper, and the date on the back of the photo, I'd say it was 1961.
One of the things I always liked about the Sullivan side of my family is that they were mostly not sticklers for symmetry. Whatever branches the tree came with would likely remain with the tree for the duration. Also, if a bigger clump of tinsel was on one of the branches than was on any of the others, so what? Live and let live (and if you don't like it, drink until you do) was the motto. Notice the clump of branches hanging over the doorway. Waste not, want not (especially when it comes to the drinks) was another motto.
(I don't want to leave you with the impression that they were a bunch of total drunken inebriates. They weren't. They were wonderful people whom I dearly loved. Many of them did enjoy their alcoholic beverages, though, and that sort of thing does tend to bring out the beauty in sparkly things and perhaps lead to pinning up the trimmings over the door frame. For what it's worth, I think it's a lovely tree, and I'm disgustingly sober at the moment.)
From my childhood in Dorchester comes this photo of the best use for any tree, as a giant toy for a cat to play with. Another shot of the same thing...
I could watch that sort of action hours at a time when I was a kid. Heck, I'd love it now. I'm still easily amused.
A tree of more recent vintage, perhaps 1995. You'll notice that I took the classic Sullivan approach to things like trimming off branches and distributing the tinsel evenly.
Actually, I did prune this tree a bit. When I got it home, I discovered that it was too tall for our room. I had to cut about six inches off of the trunk. The problem was, the only tool I had to work with was a coping saw. If you're not familiar with what a coping saw looks like, here's a photo of one.
Notice the very thin blade. A coping saw is used to make intricate cuts in mostly thinner pieces of wood. It is not meant to take the place of a rip or crosscut saw, the types usually used to tackle such things as logs, which is basically what I was cutting. Also, a coping saw blade builds up heat very quickly and snaps very easily because of it.
It took me a good 45 minutes and I went through four blades. I think I lost two pounds in sweat and five years off of my life due to the aggravation. My hands were covered in pine resin and as sore as if I were a 112-year-old arthritic. Of course, I could have hopped down to the hardware store and bought a big cheap saw for about ten bucks, saving myself a half-hour, but what's the fun in that?
This was the year that we used Pointy The Poinsettia as our Christmas tree.
Some of you may be wondering why I haven't re-run that story yet, as is my wont, and instead only gave a link to it here. I hate to break the news this way to those of you who may be fans of Pointy and who hadn't yet heard the news, but Pointy, alas, is no longer with us. He went to poinsettia heaven, a couple of years back, due to a case of root rot. I had been so successful in anthropomorphizing him, even to myself, that I actually cried when I put his remains out for the trash pickup. Anyway, it just seems wrong to re-run the story, with its happy ending, since I know he's gone. What can I say? I'm a sentimental goof.
My office manager, Kim, knew how I felt and she gifted me with the altogether wonderful replacement, Simon Peter Poinsettia...
... who is, I'm happy to report, still living (but will not be the Christmas tree this year since I have a SHINY NEW SILVER TREE, which, yes, sooner or later I'll get to here.)
Last year's bunch o' tree. And here are a couple of previous incarnations...
MY WIFE once worked in retail. She had an opportunity to snag five trees of varying heights that had been in window displays. For most of the past ten years, we've used those five trees (or random combinations of them) for our Christmas tree. But now, I've got a SHINY NEW SILVER TREE!!! and I guess it's about time I showed it to you, so here it is!
Sorry... My shiny old silver digital camera bit the dust somehow over the past few days. Even though I've scoured the manual, I can't figure it out. It won't take a charge, it won't do anything at all. It flashed an error message once, but before I could read it, it conked out completely. So, no photo. But now you know something you could get me for Christmas, if you feel the desire, so this whole thing was worthwhile, I suppose.
(I would have preferred ending with that sorry excuse for a joke, but I have the sinking feeling that, if I leave you with that last line, one or two of you might actually go out and buy me a camera, or maybe send me one you have lying around. While I would certainly appreciate that generous gesture, please don't do it. With my utter lack of skill as a photographer, it would be similar to sending sheet music to Roseanne Barr. I don't want that sort of pressure for future ignominy.)
Soon, with more better stuff.
P.S. I almost forgot! Inspiration for this post came from Growing Up In Waldron and Down Silly Rabbit's Hole. So there.