18
Dec
07

Dreary Christmas and Tacky New Year

At least the super put some kind of Christmas tree in the lobby of my building. I smelled it before I saw it. Such a gorgeous scent, pine. I love walking to the grocery store past the French Canadians selling trees on the sidewalk. They live for six weeks in a van on the corner and camp out among a forest of leaning pines to make their sales. (But rather than heating a tin of baked beans by campfire, they have any number of empanada shops or Columbian and Ecuadorian pollo kitchens to choose from.) It must be one of their models in our lobby.

It sat there for two days, fully erect in its plastic base but bound with twine. Then one night, I came home to find it expanded to its full width, draped rather sadly in multicolored lights. Left untrimmed, the branches have resolved themselves into a shapeless mass, a far cry from the mythical triangular pines of Christmas card landscapes. A single string of chasing golden lights running in an upward spiral around the trunk gives it an air of hasty indifference, and the splash of shiny red plastic ornaments look more like a constellation of acne than a project of holiday inspiration. There is no garland; there are no bows — no star or final touches of any kind. It stands in front of the main doorway like someone half dressed and waiting for the mail.

But it is our tree, and it still fills the hall with that singular odor of Christmas. How can I not love it even for its mediocrity? I only hope someone is watering the poor thing.

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