O, Christmas Tree! A nine-foot Frasier fir entered my parlor on the first day of December. This might seem a tad early to you, but frankly, I can’t justify such an expensive, temporary decorative item unless it gives me at least one full month of pleasure. Here are my thoughts on treating, lighting and decorating this venerable holiday-symbol:
Treating. To keep a tree fresh through the holidays, first spray its branches with an anti-dessicant, such as Wilt-Pruf. I spray mine before it comes indoors. Next, saw off at least one inch from the tree’s base, if the tree seller didn’t already do this for you. Thirdly, set the tree in a stand with a good-sized basin, and fill the reservoire with at least a half-gallon of water. As evaporation occurs — and this will be daily — top with more water. Finally, turn off nearby radiators. Even a tree that has been sprayed with anti-dessicant can’t be expected to hold onto its needles in a room that is hot and dry.
Lighting. I asked Herminio Ramirez, whom you’ve met before, to arrange the lights on my tree this year. You might like to copy his rather unusual, two-step system for tree-lighting. First, he drapes the lights vertically, starting at the top of the tree, as illustrated above. Then more lights are arranged horizontally. As you can imagine, this strategy produces the grandest illumination.
I use clear lights, although I’m not opposed to the multi-colored sorts. And I never use twinkling lights. The rhythmic blink gives me a headache. You might have a different opinion.
Decoration. As for decoration, I love the sober look of a tree that features all blue, all gold, or all silver balls, providing that tree is in the lobby of a hotel. Otherwise, I say go all out with ornaments. There are no rules. Use whatever you’ve collected over the years, including the ornaments you or your children were forced to make in elementary school. In the 1960s, I made such a bauble in the first grade. It was a little snowman, crafted from marshmallows, with green sequins for eyes and a cone of red construction paper for a hat. My mother kept this relic until 2006, and then foolishly sent it to me. How I would love to show you what 40-year-old marshmallows look like! Unfortunately, the little snowman crashed to the floor last December, and was promptly eaten by Lily, the wonder-beagle we wonder about. She wiped out 4 decades of history in a single gulp.
I’d love to hear about your own, special tree (even if it’s an artificial one), and its ornaments and lights. Do you prefer blinking lights, or those which give a steady effect?
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