It is that time of the year again. You know, when the weather cannot make up its mind. HOT COLD HOT COLD. You dress to make a frontal attack on your local shopping mall. Good grief, look at those lines and those are just to get in through the entrance doors. By now, perspiration is running down your face in rivulets. Do you want to face bodily injury trying to get through the mobs at the toy store? Special on suspenders? Oh, look! Polka-dotted scarves made in 17 colors, none of which even begin to complement the others.
Blink! A light goes on over your head, pulsating inside the proverbial cartoon cloud. That’s right! If we can ever find our car again we can go Christmas tree shopping at the corner lot. The smell of pine. . . the sticky sap on your fingers. A veritable symphony of smells and textures. This looks so good I think I just might have my afternoon snack right here. Try some crunchy pine needles.
- Tinsel to decorate your Christmas tree was invented in Germany around 1610. Genuine silver was used; machines had to be designed to pull the silver out in exceedingly narrow strips. In spite of being hard-wearing, the tinsel strips were not practical because of a rapid rate of tarnishing. Surprisingly though, real silver was used up through the mid-20th century. Can you imagine being the poor servant back in Victorian times whose job was to polish the strips until there was no trace of tarnish?
- Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and their children were adored by their subjects. Because of a photograph of the Royal Family standing lovingly around their Christmas tree, it became the height of fashion to have one’s own tree. These decorated trees were clamored for by British and East Coast American High Society.
- The Addis Brush Company of America made the original brush Christmas tree. This type of artificial tree was much stronger than the feather tree and was able to hold heavier ornaments and decorations. However, it did have a somewhat objectionable aspect in its mode of manufacture - at least to the more fastidious and squeamish among us - as it was made with the same equipment as used in the manufacture of the company’s regular toilet brushes!
- Animal Crackers, cookies beloved by generations of children, were imported in the late 1800s, from Great Britain to the United States. The boxes holding the cookies were shaped like Barnum’s circus-train cars and with their string handles, were intended to be hung as decorations on the family Christmas tree.
- The next time you get an urge for a snack, try nibbling on your Christmas tree. Several parts of pines, spruces, and firs are edible. Vitamin C abounds in the needles and pine nuts, or pine cones which are very nutritious.
- Two to three Christmas seedlings must be planted in order to be able to harvest one viable adult tree.
- Traditionally an American Christmas flower, the poinsettia is native to Mexico. Called the “Flower of the Holy Night, " it was brought to the United States by Joel Poinsettia in 1829.
- United States President Theodore Roosevelt was an ardent conservationist and environmentalist, banning Christmas trees wherever he lived, including the White House. His children managed to sneak Christmas trees of their own into their bedrooms.
- With the dawn of the millennium came the existence of the heavy-duty white metal Christmas tree. Meant for strictly outdoor use, it had hundreds of built-in miniature lights that did not have to be untangled every Christmas season, making for happy homemakers.
- The first known Christmas tree dealer was Mark Car. In 1851, he dragged two overloaded sleighs, brimming with just-cut trees, from the Cat skills in upstate New York all the way to New York City, opening the first retail Christmas tree lot in the United States.
- One acre of Christmas trees allows for the daily oxygen requirements for 18 people.
- Unhappy news for the environment: An artificial Christmas tree can last for six years in storage and on display, but no matter how hard you try to break it down for recycling, it will last for centuries in a landfill. Let’s hear it for live trees!!
Terry Kaufman is Chief Editorial Writer for Niftykitchen.com , Niftyhomebar.com , and Niftygarden.com .
©2006 Terry Kaufman