There was a time when building an artificial Christmas tree meant you had some skills.
You had to know how to match up the colors on a metal arm into the right row of holes. You built it branch by branch. from the bottom up.
Sometimes you had trouble telling tan from orange in the paint splotch. You might put an obviously too long of a branch too far up the tree.
Then, when it was finally built, you had to string the lights through it. You needed to weave them through the branches, pushing the tree’s needles to look as natural as possible.
When it was time to put the tree up, my family would leave me alone for about an hour. I’d slowly construct that tree, and they’d wait until I was done before they came into the room to decorate it.
We replaced that monstrosity a few years ago. Its replacement was sleeker and more impressive. Instead of individual branches plugging into the trunk, it had multiple pieces that just plopped down into one another. Lights were already weaved through the branches when you bought it.
The biggest challenge was putting the mid-sized piece into the big piece, then plopping the top third of the tree on the top. Then you had to find the plugs to get the lights all juiced from the wall.
The first time I constructed it, I felt like I’d gotten away with something. It took just minutes to construct. My family didn’t need to wait long before they could start constructing it.
Toward the end of last holiday season, the lights went on the blink. Well, one strand did. Something was shorting out, and it just didn’t look right. We decided we’d get another Christmas tree for the following year.
We finally purchased that new tree this week, and I assembled it Saturday morning. It was somehow easier than the last one. I didn’t even have to find the plug: Each section included an electrical connection in the middle, and they only plugged in the right way.
When I added electricity to the mix, the marvel lit up with the traditional white lights I like. If you press the button, the LED lights pick up random colors throughout the tree. The more you tap it, the more combinations it has of fading in and out, blinking, chasing, whatever.
In fact, I probably spent more time playing with that button that I did constructing the tree.
It makes me wonder what’s next. Will we one day see something out of “The Jetsons,” where you press a button and it assembles itself out of a tiny box? Will it be the next Alexa skill, to just tell the disembodied voice to put up the Christmas tree?
Or will there be some kind of nostalgia in the artificial tree era, where people will long for the good old days, building the tree branch by branch?
If so, look me up. I have the skills and the nostalgic memories to do it.