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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
The remainder of 2013 scheduled performances at the National Christmas Tree for which the people of the United States are truly grateful are:
When: Now through January 1, 2014