Sunday, December 26, 2010

Nutcracker, Santa and Bird

Our Christmas tree is an arboreal city, of sorts, quite cosmopolitan, with residents from all over the world: wooden nutcrackers and angels from Germany, a straw goat from Sweden, a tiny painted elephant-faced figure from India. Lots of food and flowers: plums and pickles, roses and lilies. Santas and birds top the census categories. All these odd beings inhabit their own little neighborhoods, some claiming the prime real estate at the edge of a branch. Others reside near the trunk of the tree. There, the tree lights make them sparkle like performers on a spotlit stage. Like Woodstock, this is an ephemeral city. Off they go, tucked away into various boxes till they reunite on the branches of a different tree next year.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas All Year

This is a sight that would make any Christmas tree afficionado go weak in the knees. It is just part of one wall inside Tuck's a Christmas shop in Saugatuck, Michigan. Three walls and most of the floor space were equally adorned. We already have so many Christmas ornaments that our tree gets a bit of a pruning each year to make space for the family collection. Birds migrate onto wreaths or perch in bowls. Santas stare out from the corner cupboard. In spite of this, I could not leave empty-handed. How could I possibly resist a blown glass taco?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Black White and Red

Manhattan is full of skyscrapers fronted by an open space. Space is a luxury to be flaunted on this crowded island. These plazas usually consist of a patch of concrete, maybe some broad steps, possibly a fountain or large sculpture. Most plazas seem cold and unwelcoming until the holiday season arrives. Colored lights soften and cheer them. These trees, a configuration of red bulbs topped with atomic-era stars, made me linger for a while. I looked at the way their reflected light made the bare tree branches glow red. I thought about how beautiful this scene was, perhaps because of its minimal color scheme. Then I hurried on my way.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

New Nostalgia

Nostalgia can take many forms. It used to imply the presence of Victorian-style candle-lit trees and serious Santas in long robes. Recently, a newer nostalgia has crept into holiday design. Imagine that, forgotten in a corner of the attic, you found a treasure trove of Christmas decorations from just after World War II. Tarnished silver bowls, bottle-brush trees, slightly-worn glass beads and baubles in cheery turquoise, pink and soft red. Here is a lovely interpretation of that look at Tinsel Trading Company, one of my favorite shops in New York City. This style is growing on me. It looks much more inviting in this tableau than it looked to me fifty years ago, where it struggled to complement my grandparents' Danish Modern furniture.