Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Second Hand Christmas Tree and Other Coniferous Musings

We have a second hand Christmas tree this year.

It’s a little smaller than the ones we usually get, but is very nicely shaped. We purchased it from the Boro of Califon. It had been used at the Nellie Hoffman House, the restoration project with which we are involved, for a Christmas reception two weeks ago.

Kathie and I thought it was a shame for it to sit there and go to waste, so we bought it back from the town. However, since it has some miles on it, we fear that it might not make it to Christmas. I have this vision of waking Christmas morn to a brown stick and a pile of needles in the living room.

This was not the official town tree, however, which is a scrawny little thing next to the funeral parlor parking lot. This has only served for the past two years. Before that the tree was a rather splendid, large pine in front of the Historic Society Headquarters at the old train station. Unfortunately, it was planted on the right-of-way for a long distance gas transmission line.

The gas company said that the tree had to go because its roots were threatening to compromise the pipeline. This is a lot of hooey because the line, after it leaves Califon, runs through miles of heavy forest where enormous oaks and maples grow right up to the edge of the right-of-way and whose roots must surely “compromise” it.

But what town father wants to see a headline that reads: “Town Citizens Die in Fire Ball Caused by Village Christmas Tree”? So they caved-in and the funeral parlor tree became the official conifer. To me, the proximity of the parlor casts a pall over the tree lighting festivities and caroling that takes place in its very shadow. Lord only knows what mourners think when they see Santa has shown up on a fire truck at their loved one’s wake.

Many years ago, when our kids were young, I was Chairman of the Town Recreation Committee and in charge of the Christmas tree lighting. Unfortunately, I created a controversy with my music selections. At the time we were struggling financially and only owned one Christmas album. It was Walt Disney characters singing carols.

Well, there was outrage and I was forced to appoint a music director who had a more extensive and traditional collection.

I don’t know what the fuss was about. I liked the Disney album and my kids loved it. How could you not admire Goofy’s “five onion ring” riff on the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” or the way he artistically adlibbed a series of “dootey, dootey, doo, doos” through various other standards? And it’s all low brow, secular stuff like “Frosty”, “Here Comes Santa,” etc.

It’s not as if Donald Duck had a go at the “Ave Maria.”

And frankly, I’d rather listen to a duck with a speech impediment do “It’s a Marshmallow World in the Winter” than Johnny Mathis. If I hear him simper “it’s a yum,yummy world made for sweethearts,” one more time, I’ll toss my Christmas cookies.

Kathie and I are down-sizing. Several weeks ago, our son, Kris, and grandson, Owen, came down to go through his childhood possessions and to bring back home those he wanted to keep.

One of the things that went back was the Disney album. And so, another generation of kids will chime in and bellow “FIVE ONION RINGS” whenever they hear the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”

Hark! Do you hear what I hear? Pine needles falling everywhere….

Merry Christmas.

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