Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Xmas controversies: how do YOU top your tree?

When I was little, we always had an elaborate angel topping our tree. You know: the kind with the stiffened muslin fabric skirt, the flowing plaster or resiny hair and the outstretched arms. Very biblical, very New Testament, very classical Christmas. After my parents split, my mom kept the angel and my dad switched to a traditional Austrian tree topper. We had ones made of wood and ones made of glass, but they all had that sort of pointed finial shape to them, kind of an extension of the tree top itself. Now, as the oldest child, I tend to carry on the traditions of my childhood with fierce devotion. You know, certain traditions just cannot be messed with: the tree has to be real, there cannot be tinsel, certain ornaments go in certain places, etc. But when it comes to tree-toppers, I have eschewed the angels and finials of my youth for a more gloriously over-the-top option:

Star light, star bright

Yes, the lighted star. It even blinks, if I want it to, which I mostly don't. Why do I like the star so much? Well, for one thing: SHINY! (I'm a bit of a magpie like that.) But also, dude: when you were a kid and you drew a picture of a Christmas tree, what did you always put at the top? A star, right? WELL THERE YOU GO. Christmas is one of the few times of the year when I feel it's OK to integrate a little tacky, gilded, sentimental, crass gaudiness. Heck, I EMBRACE it this time of year. 'Tis the season, right? And the star atop my tree hits the perfect note. What about you? What's on top of your tree? (Or, if you don't have one, what WOULD you top a tree with, if you did?)