Alternative Christmas Trees

It’s been years–decades, in fact–since we’ve had a Christmas tree in our house. With dogs drinking the tree water and knocking over the tree time and again, requiring us to repeatedly clean up broken ornament shards and pine needles, we just decided it was too much of a hassle. But maybe we weren’t looking at the issue with sufficient . . . creativity.

In San Antonio, where Whataburger is the favored local fast food option, one guy ate nothing but Whataburger food for weeks to obtain the cups, stryrofoam containers, fast food wrappers, and french fry boxes needed to turn his little tree into the colorful Whataburger celebration shown above. That’s the Whataburger logo in the top of tree star position, too.

The guy says he could eat (and sometimes does eat) Whataburger for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which you would need to do to collect all of the different tree decorations shown in the photo. The linked article quotes him as saying: “I mean, you can just never go wrong with Whataburger.” And what’s really impressive is that the boxes and containers don’t appear to be grease-stained. He evidently washed out and dried all of the debris to avoid attracting bugs and other vermin.

I’m guessing the Whataburger fan doesn’t have dogs, though. Even a good washing and drying wouldn’t keep our dogs from nosing through and probably destroying fast food boxes and bags.

Tree Time

With Thanksgiving behind us, it’s time to start focusing on the next big holiday on the calendar. And St. Mary Church here in German Village stands ready to satisfy your evergreen needs with a traditional Christmas tree lot. This year the lot has been spread out so the trees can comply with social distancing requirements, and there’s an ample supply of additional trees stacked up and at the ready, too.

We haven’t had a Christmas tree in years, but I do love that fresh, clean pine tree smell. it’s a pleasure walking past the lot in the morning.


I suppose you could argue that anyone living in a place called German Village should be required to have a Tannenbaum, but Kish and I have never had a tree here. My Grinch-like attitude is that, while Christmas trees smell nice, they’re really too much of a hassle to bother with unless you’ve got kids at home and lots of presents to stash under the boughs. I should add that the one memorable year when the family dog couldn’t resist trying to slurp water from the tree stand and repeatedly knocked the tree over, crushing ornaments that had been treasured heirlooms, crumpling presents underneath, and leaving the family room in our old house strewn with pine needles and glass shards, undoubtedly influenced my anti-tree sentiments.

But even if you don’t have a hulking, rapidly dried-out green object in your living room, you can still be festive around the holidays. Kish is good at adding the little touches that remind you that Christmas is just around the corner. Some snow-dappled pine cones, a Santa-themed holder for holiday cards, a few poinsettias and strategically displayed individual ornaments, and voila! –you’ve captured the Christmas mood.

And no risk of dog-related incidents, either.

The Tree Season

You know Christmas isn’t far away when the Christmas tree lots spring up.  Last week they staked out the yard in front of the church school with tree stands, and today the trees arrived.  The air was heady with the smell of pine as the workers unloaded the trucks and then moved the trees to their respective positions.  Now all we need is a fire in an oil drum and some snow to complete the traditional tableau.

Merry Christmas — And Joyeux Noel!

002Merry Christmas to all of our friends and family!  We hope the holidays bring peace and happiness to all, and joy in spending time with your loved ones.

After a few days of rain and gray skies, Christmas dawned bright and clear in Paris.  The sun was a welcome sight — although it’s only supposed to be a temporary one — and it lit up the dome of the army hospital museum at the end of our street.  In the square right in front of the museum, the merchants have erected a number of Christmas trees, all of which are decorated with delicate, bright, flowing ribbons.

Joyeux Noel!


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.