Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ghosts of Christmas Trees Past, with All the Trimmings

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ghosts of Christmas Trees Past, with All the Trimmings

Article excerpt

I spent the holiday weekend at my parents' house on Long Island. And, as always happens at this time of year, the holidays changed abruptly between Thursday night and Friday morning.

On Friday, I awoke to a pretty photograph in my email box, courtesy of Martha Stewart Living.

It was a picture of a whitewashed barn with red wrapping paper covering the windows. And, beneath them, flower boxes wrapped with bows and filled with evergreen branches.


I love making fun of Martha's projects. But, I have to admit, this one looked terrific.

Shortly thereafter, I adjourned to the sliding glass doors of my apartment to let the dog out and realized that my father had gotten an earlier start than I had. The shed door was open, a large empty carton was on the grass and my parents' enormous plastic Christmas tree was tied with gray rope and dangling from their deck above me.

Seconds later, Dad emerged from the shed, holding the Christmas tree stand.

"I see you're FINALLY up," he said, from under his ski cap. "Ho- ho-ho."

No. No. No.

Too early for this.

"Do I look like a jolly old elf?" he asked, as the dog dashed out the door.

"I wouldn't say 'elf,'" I replied. "But you definitely look jolly and old."

"I was going to ask you to help me bring the tree upstairs, but I figured you were sleeping. So ... voila!"

He pointed to the you-know-what dangling from the deck.

"What do you think?" he asked. "This is the patented ergonomically correct Ervolino pulley system. It's my own invention!"

"Dad, it's not an invention. It's a plastic tree hanging from three yards of clothesline. Do you want me to help you yank it onto the deck?"

"Not right away," he replied. "It's been in the shed all year. Your mother wants me to air it out."

"Well, don't air it out for too long," I said. "It won't feel like Christmas if the house doesn't smell like plastic."

Which reminded me ...

When I was growing up, it never occurred to me that my parents might one day buy what we used to call an "artificial" tree -- unlike our cousins Sal and Marie, who lived across the street from us, and who ventured into the thrilling world of artificiality when I was 7.

They didn't get a big green plastic tree, though. …

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