And so the negotiation begins. If you see a mushroom cloud forming over Camino de Christmas in Wildwood, just take cover but save some Nog for me.
We, the people of old stoic ways, begin the holiday season with a checklist. Fully flocked, partial flock or no fluffy at all? Artificial or from Mother Nature’s garden? Pink, turquoise or Day-Glo green? Long needles or short ones?
Fully fat or Charlie Brown-style? White lights, colored lights, drippy lights or sparklers? And the size of those babies, the little baby twinkly ones, the medium-size type or the papa-bear ones that will redirect airplanes on our flight path toward LAX?
Now all these decisions might seem trivial in light of the momentous problems facing the world and our culture in general. And yes, they are pretty vapid just like me. All the more reason, I say, to get our priorities straight to focus on the unsubstantial, the insignificant, the truly shallow, the really useless.
Like the tradition of bringing into the house a huge, once living thing that resembles a gigantic tree, filled with exotic spiders and other parasitic gifts from Mother Nature. Or if the artificial route is your thing, accented by the heavenly scent of polyurethane and acetone.
The. Christmas. Tree.
Or the Hanukkah Bush or the Tannenbaum or the Holiday Pine, whatever you’d prefer to call it. You smell what I’m smoking and Americans spend thousands of dollars decorating those buggers every year to say nothing of the marital conflict that ensues as a result of loving discussions pertaining to size, resting location, décor and what to do with the beast when you’re sick of it.
Like me, you could really give a rat’s you know what, but the American Christmas Tree Association says we spent 1.3 billion smackarooskis on trees last year. That’s $1.3 billion that could have fed the poor or bought a new home for Jay-Z and Beyonce.
Instead, we frittered it away on an ephemeral decoration usually done in bad taste and placed off kilter only to be surrounded momentarily by gifts then dumped like a mealy watermelon in the trash.
And a surprising 78 percent of us “put up” trees in 2016. That means 22 percent of Americans are a lot smarter than us dummies with the Tannenbaum hanging out in the parlor. The 22-percenters have more money to spend on Teslas and Omaha steaks.
I was somewhat surprised to learn that 81 percent of Americans now choose artificial trees, which would have been heresy in my father’s world, where he trekked from lot to lot every year in search of the perfect tree. Followed by a stiff scotch on the rocks.
In our corner of the world, Stu Baby and the Boy Scouts along with Christmas Ranch tree farms have the corner on the real tree bidness. But at Target, go to the “natural look” section of their artificial-tree department to find one that looks real but neener neener neener . . . fooled you. It’s polyvinyl chloride with a chaser of Pine-Sol for effect.
Enough Scrooge talk. Yes, there is nothing more wonderful than the glow of a Christmas tree on a dark winter night to warm your heart, drive up your electric bill and fill the holiday coffers of retailers everywhere with joy and dinero. Hey, it’s an excuse to have a hot toddy!
Here’s hoping all your trees will be merry and bright.