Christmas trees are hot this year. The real ones, not the fake ones. After decades in decline, natural Christmas trees are selling like hand sanitizer. Ten months of COVID, COVID, COVID, and endless election nonsense has flipped the script.
Millions of us are leaving that polyvinyl chloride beauty we bought from Amazon a dozen years ago in storage and opting instead for a trip to the tree lot or farm to tie a 12-foot Douglas fir atop the mini-van.
As 2020 crawls to a close, we want normal. Or something that reminds of us of normal. What better than a Christmas tree?
Under perfect circumstances, Christmas can be bittersweet. It’s not just a celebration of what is, but it’s also a reminder of what was. Christmas has a melancholy subtext. If we let our expectations get unreasonably high or dwell on how fast another year has flown by, we can end up feeling let down, which is why so many Christmas songs are maudlin: “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Christmas Will Break Your Heart,” “Blue Christmas,” “Another Lonely Christmas,” even John Prine’s “Christmas in Prison.” Happy holidays!
Christmas is a retrospective holiday, each year in competition with a memorable year from the past when every chair was filled and every stocking stuffed.
We break out old family recipes, and fill the house with sights and scents and sounds familiar across the generations. All that baked-in nostalgia is what may make Christmas 2020 extra-special.
We could use a safe harbor after the year we’ve just gone through, especially for the hundreds of thousands of families who lost a loved one to COVID, and the millions more who lost their job as businesses large and small went under.
While it may be asking too much of a Christmas tree to make that kind of pain go away, at least for a couple of days a string of lights, a few glittery ornaments, some tinsel and Bing on the Bluetooth will help us pretend.
When we’re kids, Christmas morning is the Super Bowl, World Series and Academy Awards rolled into one. It’s the day of days for swag. Better than dyed Easter eggs, Halloween candy and even our birthdays.
When we get a little older, Christmas starts to lose some of its magic. The first time our parents asked us, “What’s the name of that thing you said you want?” We’ve retired jolly ol’ St. Nick and his flying reindeer and replaced him with a personal shopper. Even before COVID-19, Santa had been effectively replaced by Amazon Prime.
Instead of gathering around the tree, we’re likely to be gathered around an iPad as we download another holiday.
So, if a Balsam fir, Norway spruce or Scots pine can bring back a little of the humanity of the holidays, I’m all for it, even if it means will I’ll still be sweeping up needles on the Fourth of July, which could be a song title.
A new year is just around the corner and New Year’s Day is the opposite of Christmas; it’s forward-looking, made for resolutions and new beginnings. Who doesn’t want to hit the reset button after 2020?
Doug McIntyre’s column appears Sundays. He can be reached at: Doug@DougMcIntyre.com.