13 December 2004

O Christmas Tree!

I'd like to say I had a joyous, happy time decorating the tree on Sunday, but I had a backache that had started before we had to get together and fix the fence (see today's "Yet Another Journal" entry about the fence), and then I fought for about an hour with the string of lights before abandoning it for another string. (I'm having a problem with light strings this year: first the one on my mom's tree, then the one on the wreath--which still isn't fixed--and now the tree lights. They worked fine when I took them down last year!)

The lights go first, of course, then the ornaments, and finally the icicles. I wonder how many other folks still put on "the tinsel"--even my mom has abandoned the custom since it's just too much for her arthritic fingers. When I finished I watched the silvery threads floating in the breath of air from the furnace.

I remember reading one of the books about the old-style icicles, the original version made from lead foil. Of course they were banned in the late 60s when all the data came in about lead poisoning in children. It seems to me, though, that even in my childhood we had the lighter mylar tinsel (perhaps in the 50s we had the older sort that you had to throw away every year because it tarnished). This book went pretty hard on the mylar stuff because the lead foil hung like real icicles from the tree while the mylar blows and vibrates in every breeze and holds a static charge.

The latter is a pain in the neck. One of the reasons I won't let the dog near the tree is because tinsel follows her like crazy; she's very "magnetic." But it's funny, the other reason that the author dislikes mylar icicles is the very reason I like them: the way they move when a slight draught eddies about the tree. It is almost as if the tree is alive when they move, like the light fur on an animal or the leaves on a tree. In the end it is what you've grown up with, I suspect.

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