The best of Christmas kitsch | AspenTimes.com

The best of Christmas kitsch

Meredith C. Carroll

With apologies to Bill O’Reilly and his war on Christmas, I am in the process of preparing my first-ever holiday tree.My husband celebrates Christmas and in the spirit of marital compromise, I agreed we could get a tree just as long as there’s nothing religious on it (which, of course, automatically rules out adorning it with dreidels or papal bobbleheads).Since I’ve never had a tree before, there are no old family traditions to which I feel obliged to adhere. My husband’s tree custom since college has been to drag a pathetic little plastic one out of a dented old box and wrap it haphazardly in silver tinsel garland. The box (thankfully and mysteriously) disappeared when we moved this fall, which means our first tree as a married couple will be like a big (green) blank slate.A fake tree actually wouldn’t be the end of the world. They make some really good fakes these days. During the course of my tree research, I’ve come to learn that many are sold according to their tip count. Apparently, like photos of Britney Spears wearing no panties this week, the more the better.The needles on many trees are fashioned to look as if they have been freshly cut. They even make fake trees with cashmere tips to somehow ensure the lights stay lit even if bulbs burn out. Some of the fakes come pre-lit, which would obviously save some valuable hang time. Others include pine cones and glitter. A number of fakes are manufactured with varying branch lengths to make decorating easier (the tales of trimming hardships must be woeful). They make tabletop trees, presumably for those who are space-challenged. They also produce white trees, perhaps for those determined to make the dream of a white Christmas a reality. Then there are the themed trees, and with names like “Cherish,” “Memories,” “Wish” and “Create,” the poignant, elegant fake possibilities are endless.Still, this is my first tree and I want a real one. At first I thought we should get a permit from the forest service and chop down our own, but who are we kidding? We tried to chop a single piece of firewood at our old house last year and after an hour of hacking away with an axe that looked like something formerly owned by Paul Bunyan, nothing bigger than a Tootsie Roll was produced. Plus, I had a friend in Old Snowmass whose family used to chop down their own tree every year. While they proudly displayed it in their living room and crowed it nourished their souls, brought them closer together and smelled better than anything that could be store-bought. The truth is their trees were so sparse and spindly, they looked way more like Charlie Brown’s than Martha Stewart’s.No, we’re going to scour the local supermarkets and nurseries this weekend to pick out our very own real dead tree. The question thereafter will become how it should be decorated.There’s the lighting issue. Do we go the Rockefeller Center route and try to string 30,000 bulbs? Do we endeavor to emulate this year’s Sardy House tree and spend over $90,000 on 10,000 LED nodes that are programmatically capable of emitting 16.7 million different colors in order to display animations like cascading rainbows and fireworks? Or perhaps we’re best aiming for a Norman Rockwell tree experience and hanging a simple colored strand entwined with some popcorn on a string?It was definitely my decision that besides the tree and a menorah, no other holiday symbols would adorn our home. But flipping through some seasonal accessory guides and catalogues, I kind of wish we could expand on the decorations just a tiny bit. I was tempted to get, but ultimately resisted ordering, an air blown nativity scene for the backyard. Nothing screams Happy Birthday Jesus quite like an inflatable 4-by-9 Santa in a stock car with an elf pit crew, however, I passed on that, too. We could make quite a statement in the neighborhood with a holographic Santa helicopter or a 12-and-a-half-foot inflatable snowman perched atop a snow globe. But a deal is a deal, and I’m nothing if not a woman of my word.Besides, as a first timer, thinking about all the possible ornament, tree skirt and tree topper permutations is somewhat dizzying – I don’t need to add more to my holiday plate right now. If I had known a tree was going to be this much work, I might have started planning it in the spring. Next year.E-mail questions or comments to meredithccarroll@hotmail.com.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.