Julia, my food frakking deputy, and I spent last Christmas in New York. Well, technically it was Boxing Day in New York City, and Christmas in Connecticut, but I feel it was a reasonably iconic way to spend the holiday nonetheless.
We had a very interesting walking tour of Midtown Manhattan from an actual native, so of course we had to go by Rockefeller Plaza. It was the day after Christmas, so the place was a madhouse, virtually should-to-shoulder humanity. And presiding over it all, looking down at the swarms of ice skaters was the Christmas tree.
Julia can confirm that I wondered out loud how they got the tree into the city. The Rockefeller Plaza Christmas tree was about as wide as three lanes of traffic. It was definitely too big to come into the city by truck. There was simply no way that a tree that big could have the branches tied back far enough to get through Manhattan traffic, the toll booths on the bridges, etc. And it was, looking at it, a perfectly formed, perfectly conical tree, not something that had been battered by a lot of limb-tying.
My initial thought was they must use a helicopter, but that seemed dangerous and ridiculously over-the-top even by New York standards.
Yes, that’s right, I’m a country boy at heart. Take me to the Big Apple and I mainly think about the trees.
It wasn’t until we went to the Manhattan public library that I got a chance to look closely at one of these big-city trees. Behind the library they had a Christmas fair with a tree that could be the twin of the tree at Rockefeller Plaza. The crowds were thinner, so I could get right up close to the tree, and actually look through the branches to the horrible lie within.
The truth is, there are no giant, perfectly formed trees in Manhattan on Christmas. They chainsawed all the branches off these trees, trucked them into the city, and then tied the branches back onto the trunk. That’s why the trees make a perfect cone, which actual conifers do not actually do in the wild. It’s just a sculpted heap of rope, nails, and dead tree.
Sure, I can dig how the ritualized slaughter of an evergreen tree represents the rebirth of life in the middle of winter in a Germanic paganistic sort of way. But do you really have to mutilate the tree too?