What better time to change traditions like ‘live Christmas trees’ than at the beginning of a marriage? All the department stores were showing the latest thing in artificial trees ... the dramatic aluminum foil Christmas tree that would last forever. Complete with a spotlight covered with a rotating wheel of rainbow colors to bathe the tree night after night in living color. In fact the strobe light bathed half the living room in those colors, distorting oil paintings, print drapes and whatever else was in it’s path, including people. But, what more could you ask than to save the forests, save money replacing trees year after year, plus be the first on your block to have the latest innovation?
Some of my worst looking Christmas trees of times past began to look good to me, as we decorated the sterile silver branches with ornaments from our combined households. I’d had some pretty skimpy trees in the lean years. Some fat, some skinny, some crooked, some short, but none had the unmistakable crackle of aluminum foil. They were green. They looked and smelled like trees.
"It kind of glows," I said as I reached up to place the angel on top of the tree. The angel and I momentarily turned green as the spectrum of lights moved on to red, blue and gold. I stepped back to survey the wonderful results of this eclectic wonder.
"Do you like it?" Dick asked.
"Not much," I admitted.
Nothing we did to this modern day substitute for pine branches and the smell of the forest helped. The more we piled on it the glitzier it became and the colored lights swirled on relentlessly.
Canadians observe the day after Christmas as "Boxing Day". It was a day set aside to clear out the mess from opening presents the day before. The day to haul out the tree along with empty cartons and boxes that all our wonderful gifts we’d always wanted came packed in.
That year, we observed Boxing Day, too. The crackling, rattling, shiny, cold looking aluminum foil tree that would last forever bit the dust. At this moment it is laying in some canyon landfill in Clairemont along with disposable diapers that are not bio-degradable.
Archaeologists of the future will stumble onto those trees, buried by the thousands, in every neighborhood landfill of every small town in America.
"What is this stuff?" and they will shake their heads in wonder at the foolish things that man will invent in the name of creativity.
"Maybe it attached to street sweepers?" one will ask.
"No, I think it went on top of flag poles."
"I think they rattled it to keep away dark spirits."
Little will they know that it was deliberately purchased by an emerging blended family of the 60’s who had high hopes of catching the "spirit of Christmas" in a new and unusual way. They were to try many ‘new’ things during those turbulent years of learning what traditions to keep and what traditions of their past to throw away and what traditions to establish that were totally their own.
That first Christmas they established their first hard and fast tradition.
No glitzy aluminum foil Christmas trees ever again!