It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

The Christmas tree is up and decorated. With a Gin & Tonic in one hand, and a Bing Crosby-laden iPod in the other, I provided art direction and even a bit of hands-on while we broke out the decorations and hung the lights. There's nothing like the green, citrusy smell of a pine tree in your living room to drive the point home that you're way, way behind on your Christmas shopping.

This year we went with a mighty Fraser fir, which is unusual for these parts. My wife is flabbergasted at the bushiness, the manliness of this Christmas tree. It stands proud, erect; its foliage thick and its confidence unperturbed by its uprooted status or demeaning duties. In this way, it is much like myself, so I identify with the tree. She calls it The Donald Duck Christmas Tree, since its perfection of form reminds her of the idealized versions you'll find in Disney films and comic books. I'm not sure whether Americans take this to be their Christmas tree to mirror the comics, or the comics mirror the Americans.

Europeans tend to go for either the Norway spruce or the Nordmann fir. Though the Nordmann is renowned for its ability to hold its needles well into its deployment, I find the species kind of spare and sickly-looking. This is what we Americans scoff as The Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. Not without a feeling of superiority.

It's a bit early to put the tree up, seeing as it's only just been the second advent. My wife is German, and she grew up in a household where the tree was brought in and decorated on the evening of the 24th of December. The kids, so it seems, were confined to one part of the house while the dad secretly rushed the tree into place, strung up the lights, and hung the decorations. The mom would keep guard duty over the kids, making sure there was no spying, then sneak the presents into their places at the foot of the tree. Christmas is a time of deceit, stealth, and family intrigues, even in Germany.

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