Static Electricity In The Age Of Tinsel

When we were kids, the family Christmas tree always featured fat electric lights, traditional bulbs, and tinsel.  For those too young to remember it, tinsel was long, shiny, quasi-metallic strips that you hung from tree branches.

Tinsel also had the added benefit of being a great way for a brother to torment his sisters.

The most important feature of tinsel was its extraordinary reaction to static electricity.  In fact, I would wager that most boys growing up during the ’60s learned about the properties of static electricity from two objects — tinsel and balloons.

Tinsel was always the last thing to go on the tree, after the electric lights had been strung and the bulbs placed to cover the inevitable gaps on the tree itself.  Mom would open the pack of new tinsel and solemnly remind us to place the tinsel one strip at a time, rather than hurling unsightly gobs of tinsel on the tree limbs.  The preferred single strand hanging approach approximated icicles and turned your tree into an object of glittering beauty.

The single strand placement approach was incredibly boring, however.  My sisters would dutifully follow instructions, but it didn’t take long before I was placing the single strands on the back of my sisters’ sweaters, or on their hair, or shuffling my feet on the carpet and waving my hand past the tinsel to watch it move in response to the static electricity charge.  After that, it was just a matter of time before I was giving UJ and my sisters static electricity shocks and all semblance of an orderly tree decoration process was lost.

Maybe there’s a reason people don’t seem to use tinsel like they used to.

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2 thoughts on “Static Electricity In The Age Of Tinsel

  1. My Story In 1900,s to 1940,S,
    JAMES TAYLER. boatyard was Building Boats,for the Gentry,Yachts river cruisers,ect,, Kings, MP,s .at Chertsey Surrey,
    In 1937 He Built, awer Themes river Crusere,, The FRAMAR LONDON.
    We aqued,the Boat May 2012.we was looking. For boat to go up and dawn the rivers ,Boston Linclin Nottingham
    Yorkshire
    the ferst trip,was Lincoln just outsid.the Glory hole.
    Mooring,up a
    passer-by,sed!do you know,
    that,s a famous Boat you have there,
    .that got us thinking.the local newspapers,did a story on the boat ,when we fawned the Framar, it was in a sorry staet,,after the newspapers story the general,public.got intuch,telling it had RAF links ,so we followed this linck, on the BBC.radio. Collers ,phond in after the show,taking us to WW2 .and links to.Sundland Fliingboat ,the Framar.
    40ft wooden tek on oke ,2 big engines.
    Streamlined Hull.vary fast built for speed.
    We now bleve it Was used by ie MI5.SOE secret service.getting ,agents back meeting,Sub, i
    We hop to tern the Framer in to a Floating Museum.we need help, This wold Comemraet thous Secret service men & family’s that gave so much
    Often in such secrtseey there Missions went,Recognised.some there Names will never bee known.

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