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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Trains and trills trump nation's tree

The National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse south of the White House/Patricia Leslie

The best decorations at the National Christmas Tree setting on the Ellipse south of the White House are the trains.  They go round and round little villages which are all lit up at night, and they light up faces, too, of all ages.  Like candles glowing in the night.

The trains at the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse south of the White House/Patricia Leslie

For a few moments visitors are hypnotized by the glory of the moment sweetened by nightly (and daytime, too, on weekends) live seasonal music coming from nearby performers on stage. 

What is the reason the singers' backs face visitors to the National Christmas Tree? Is the target audience the traffic on Constitution and the people at the Washington Monument?  Can they hear what I hear?/Patricia Leslie
For years I've been struck by the permanence and artificial appearance of the national tree and how much it reminds me of senior ladies who used to wear hair nets.  Who remembers those?  Egad.  The national tree looks like it is permanently fried, perfectly coiffed, with that sprayed-on look which used to be popular in the 1950s.  Tightly woven together in perfect symmetry. 

Is it an artificial tree?  The website says it is real and was transplanted to the grounds about a year ago.

Please, abandon all hedge trimmers and chainsaws, ye who enter these hallowed spaces.

Perhaps it's only because I see it at night.  But from Constitution Avenue during the day the tree looks like it was decorated by robots on ladders.  The white balls hang in boring rows, suspended huge ping pong balls. 

Please, may we have some semblance of humanity at our nation's tree?   Something which loosens it up so that it does not look like it was decorated by a machine (or a "plan" of a map of the tree used year in and year out) but by nature.  And people.  Without artificial components.

It's too "matchy matchy," what you would expect to find in North Korea. (The website says General Electric designed and provided the lights for the tree.  Yep, looks like some engineers had a hand in it, all right.)

Sadly (there's more), the 56 trees all of the same exact height and width which surround the tree (representing the states, territories, and the lowly District of Columbia) are practically identical.  The signs say the ornaments on each tree are individually crafted by state representatives. (Not legislators.  Can't you just imagine that?  A decorating party for state legislators?  Yuk! Yuk!  But, come to think of it, maybe they'd all get along better.  "Who's got the glue?" "Please pass the scissors.")  The lack of individuality suggests they came right out of a manufacturing plant in China.  Or, perhaps the artists were following strict guidelines issued by...engineers?

For the Tennessee tree, Pam Weston from Tennessee Young Artists in partnership with Middle Tennessee State University made these ornaments for the states and territories' "Pathway to Peace" at the National Christmas Tree /Patricia Leslie

On second thought, it must be the bubbles which encapsulate and protect the ornaments from the elements which lend them this image, but the plastic cases detract from the contents and obscure the designs.
The sign indicates Jenna Lee of the John P. Sousa Middle School made ornaments for the District of Columbia tree, pictured here/Patricia Leslie


Hamilton Glass and Patience Salgado, ART 180 made these ornaments for Virginia's tree/Patricia Leslie

Can you spot three moving engines with headlamps? Patricia Leslie

Now one of the engines has moved out of the picture.  Where did it go? Patricia Leslie
The back of the White House, the big house, whose seasonal finery we enjoy/Patricia Leslie

There is an alternative. 

Up at the U.S. Capitol at the other end of the National Mall  is the Capitol Christmas Tree ("This is real!") which last year featured ornaments made by Colorado school children.  It looked more natural and honest, leaning one way a little bit with uneven branches, to wit, a heckuva lot better than the National Unnatural Christmas Tree. 

Or, what about permitting each state to design its own tree?  And ornaments.  What an incredible idea!  (Engineers prohibited from entering.)

Please have a look, see what you think, and write soon.

Weekend Flights

The remainder of 2013 scheduled performances at the National Christmas Tree for which the people of the United States are truly grateful are:

Wednesday December 18, 2013

5:00-5:30 pm Louise Archer E.S. Chorus
Vienna, VA

6:00-6:30 pm Robert E. Aylor M.S. Chorus
Stephens City, VA

7:00-7:30 pm Olney E.S. Chorus
Olney, MD

8:00-8:30 pm Kent Island H.S. Wind Symphony
Stevensville, MD


Thursday December 19, 2013

5:00-5:30 pm Virginia Women’s Chorus
Charlottesville, VA

6:00-6:30 pm St. Mary’s Bryantown Choir
Bryantown, MD

7:00-7:30 pm West Springfield H.S. Madrigals
Springfield, VA

8:00-8:30 pm Mayfield Singing Ambassadors
Manassas, VA

Friday December 20, 2013

5:00-5:30 pm Maranatha Gospel Choir
Fredericksburg, VA

6:00-6:30 pm Boyle School of Irish Dance
Alexandria, VA

7:00-7:30 pm Lewisburg Area H.S. Concert Choir
Lewisburg, PA

8:00-8:30 pm NPursuit Jazz
Richmond, VA


Saturday December 21, 2013

1:00-1:30 pm Children of the Light Dancers
Fairfax, VA

2:00-2:30 pm The Christmas Singers
Gaithersburg, MD

3:00-3:30 pm Central Bucks West Chamber Choir
Doylestown, PA

5:00-5:30 pm Victory in Praise Dancers
Baltimore, MD

6:00-6:30 pm Ox Hill Baptist Youth Choir
Chantilly, VA

7:00-7:30 pm Blue Ridge Thunder Cloggers
Waterford, VA

8:00-8:30 pm Tru Voice NYC Singers
New York, NY

Sunday December 22, 2013

1:00-1:30 pm Hearts of Gold
Linthicum, MD

2:00-2:30 pm Bull Run Cloggers
Manassas, VA

3:00-3:30 pm Washington Mennonite Chorus
Washington, DC

5:00-5:30 pm The Voices of Zion
Washington, DC

6:00-6:30 pm Metropolitan School of the Arts
Alexandria, VA

7:00-7:30 pm Linda Clark
Richmond, VA

8:00-8:30 pm Voices in Praise
Friendship, MD

Too perfect symmetry/Patricia Leslie

What:  The National Christmas Tree

When:  Now through January 1, 2014

Where:  In the Ellipse south of the White House

Metro station:  Farragut West

Cost:  It's free!

Winter Travel


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