It was my father who bought the tree. He would say that “white would be the new green in the next ten years,” but I can tell you from experience that his prediction never came true. The year was 1963. I had just finished my first semester of the ninth grade-an uncomfortable time only heightened by my family’s financial distress. Of course, I understood my father’s reasoning behind the artificial tree; “it was a hell-of-a-lot cheaper than those overpriced allergy inducing real ones!” he would argue. And so the era of the white Christmas tree began, and continued for the next ten years of my life. Sure, I was disappointed when the designated Christmas tree spot next to the window suddenly seemed empty, and sure I flinched in embarrassment when my friends witnessed my pathetic pine. (I was convinced my family was the only family in the world who had stooped so low as to buy a fake tree-and a white at that!) It wasn’t until much later, after stumbling on a faded photograph of the infamous tree, that I truly appreciated its modest beauty. The photograph was no doubt taken by my father, probably in an attempt to validate his wonderful new purchase. What he didn’t know was that this measly tree would bind our family together in shared hatred. (None of us would admit we thought white might actually look kind of cool.) The tree, although scrawny and awkward, was the tree under which I opened every gift I received for ten years. It was the tree I lovingly hung red and green balls on while being ordered by my father to “move it to the right, goddamn it! No, now to the left!” over and over again until he was satisfied. And I’ll even confess that when my mother finally dragged the tired tree to the curb for the trash men to take, I almost ran out to stop her. But although it is gone in body, the white tree’s spirit lives on in my father’s yellowed photograph. Framed in all its glory, it reigns triumphantly on the fireplace right next to the window where our new (real) green tree stands. And there it will remain, just in case white ever does become the new green.
White is the New Green
July 8, 2012