Sacrifice a tree for Christmas
were decorating our Christmas tree the other night, it occurred to me how weird some Christmas traditions are. What kind of a holiday do you celebrate by cutting down a perfectly good Douglas fir looking forward to many happy years of life in Oregon and sending it 3,000 miles to an island in the tropics to die a slow, embarrassing death with doodads, gewgaws and tacky colored lights hanging all over it? I think that's why one year our Christmas tree tried to commit suicide. It suddenly threw itself on the floor, breaking many heirloom ornaments my family had used to embarrass Christmas trees for generations. I think it was a suicide attempt. But we might have accidentally hung too many of the heavier ornaments on one side.
The trick with a Christmas tree in Hawaii is to keep it from dying before New Year's. Sometimes it's like a race with the devil, trying to stop the so-called "evergreen" from going "surely brown." Some people suggest adding aspirin to the water to prolong the tree's life, but I think medicating a tree that you know isn't long for this world is a tad hypocritical.
I REALLY felt sorry for all the trees piled up outside of City Mill in a blazing hot parking lot. They had that festive "Hey! I'm fryin' here!" Christmas pine forest smell. I imagined them mumbling to each other ... "There we were, growing in the nice cool Washington autumn air ... what a great view we had ... the mountains, the streams ... I even saw a deer go by ... then a guy shows up with a chain saw and -- bam! -- we're steaming like manapua here in this parking lot."
I couldn't have a parking lot tree in my living room. I'd feel too guilty. So I made the City Mill dude open up the refrigerated container, and I picked one of the fresh ones. There were a bunch of them in there, huddled together in the dark like escapees from a Northwestern penal institution for wayward shrubs.
After we got it all watered and decorated at home, it looked as happy as a tree can look under the circumstances.
Is sticking a dying fir tree in your house really such a weird thing? In a small town in Sweden, residents erect a 43-foot-high straw goat for Christmas. And every year, some wag burns it down. The burning of the giant straw goat now has become a holiday tradition in Gavle, Sweden.
Now that's weird.
Charles Memminger, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org