Free!

It’s not easy being a Christmas tree. The day after Christmas, I saw the first of several cast-off evergreens set out as trash as I walked Reggie around the block; this morning, I saw one tree tossed on a local lawn, as if taking one’s erstwhile Tannenbaum to the trash was too tiring a trip. At the Trader Joe’s in West Newton this afternoon, they set out a bin of free Christmas greenery, the leftover wreaths, boughs, and evergreen garland that didn’t sell. As is true in the aftermath of Keene’s annual Pumpkin Festival, Christmas evergreens quickly go from cherished to trashed. I’m glad the lifespan of a Festive Holiday Tree is longer than that of a Christmas tree, with the one here in Waban staying illuminated well into February last year. As soon as you look beyond Christmas, you can find all sorts of festive winter reasons to keep your evergreens around, illuminated, and out of the trash.

Maybe I’m in no hurry to see folks cast off their Christmas greenery because I arrived so late to the season. Typically, I don’t have time for Christmas prep until my fall semester is nearly or entirely done…which means I finished the last of my Christmas shopping yesterday. Luckily, my family is used to gifts from “Last Minute Lori” arriving late…and since I’ll be going to Ohio to see my family in a couple weekends, I bought some time (without fooling anyone) by saying I’d “hand deliver” several items.

Cast off

My own procrastinative tendencies notwithstanding, though, I’ve always preferred to keep Christmas decorations up longer than most, mostly because it always was a tradition in my family to keep our Christmas tree until my birthday, January 6, the traditional date of the Epiphany. In the old days, Christmas didn’t last one day; it lasted twelve, the “Twelve Days of Christmas” being the time it took for the Three Kings to arrive in Bethlehem to visit the newborn Jesus. Even today, holiday travel is a bitch, so it’s no wonder that men arriving on camels and relying on a star for navigation would have taken longer than the average lifespan of a Christmas tree to reach their destination.

I mention all of this by way of raising two logistical points. First, one of the items I’ll be hand-delivering to relatives in Ohio in a couple weeks is my 2008 calendar, which you can view here and buy here. Second, I’ve been remiss in announcing the upcoming Festival of the Trees which I’ll be hosting here on January 1st. You can send your tree-related links to me at zenmama (at) gmail (dot) com with “Festival of the Trees” in the subject line, or you can use this automated submission form. The official deadline for submissions is Sunday, December 30, but we all know “Last Minute Lori” isn’t fooling anyone with her fine talk of deadlines. I’ll be posting the Festival at some point on New Year’s Day, so please submit your links soon!

Extension corded

It’s beginning to look a lot like…extension cords. J tells me they keep the lights wrapped around the towering spruce tree in downtown Waban year ’round, and he’s probably right. But I don’t remember seeing these extension cords on previous dog-walks, so I’m guessing they don’t keep Festive Holiday Tree plugged in all year, just during the Festive Holiday Months of November through February-ish.

Be-bulbed

Yes, February-ish. I met J last January, and the first time he gave me directions to his house, Festive Holiday Tree was a notable (and conveniently illuminated) landmark. Newton is a largely Jewish suburb of Boston, and Waban is a largely Jewish section of Newton. This means there aren’t many Christmas trees in Waban, but Festive Holiday Trees are a different story. If you keep your Festive Holiday Tree lit until sometime in February, no one can accuse you of celebrating Christmas at the expense of other sectarian holidays. Instead, Festive Holiday Time, like Festivus, is a celebration for the rest of us.

Plugged in

Apparently it takes a lot of extension cords to keep a Festive Holiday Tree lit. In the past, I’ve used the metaphor of laptop power cords to refer to the way different religions tap into the same unnameable power source, and I suppose that applies to Festive Holiday Trees as well. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Buddha’s Enlightenment, or any of a number of light-focused winter festivals, you have to light your fire somewhere. It’s heartening to know a nice Jewish neighborhood like Waban makes room for both a Festive Holiday Tree and a Catholic born-again Buddhist who believes in truly eclectic holiday decor.

Every year, I think “they” (i.e. the Powers That Be who put up and plug in Festive Holiday Trees) are getting an earlier start on the season…but then I realize it’s later than I think. While I’m still getting used to the fact that it’s November already, the rest of the world is zooming into Thanksgiving. If Thanksgiving is here, can Festive Holiday Time be far behind? A quick check of my blog archive shows I posted a similar picture of the Festive Holiday trees in Keene on–you guessed it–November 18 last year. Whether “they” live in New Hampshire or Massachusetts, “they” have an impeccable sense of timing.

So whether your Festive Holiday Tree is a ginkgo with a light-lined trunk or a spruce with bulb-bedecked branches, ’tis the season for everyone.

Towering, with extension cords