Friday, November 30, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree


From Daniel Okrent's book,
 Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center. New York: Viking

Who doesn't appreciate Rockefeller Center's traditional winter skating midst the flags of the world flapping in the rhythmic breeze? The crisp air, and perfectly decorated holiday tree honoring Christianity's adoption of a Germanic ritual that by no means trivializes sacrificing living things? 
Please look at  this Huffington Post account of Rockefeller Center's tree lighting and appreciate how much of a community event this ceremony became. How the occasion, for many, seems as significant as childhood memories of parents providing whatever they could for their children too.
I preferred to try and describe an even more admiring appraisal of the ritual. But beating around the bush and getting to the point are nowhere near the same things. This is an extremely glamorous event at this stage of holiday seasons, and, as such, a for-seeable tree killing ceremony that could continue for the rest of time. Sure, the  New York City Parks Department Christmas Tree Recycling Program is practically composting art. And one tree can possibly be replaced with thousands that could reach another 80 feet tall, themselves, or not. In addition a new tree can always be planted on the very spot the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree was technically forced to give up. 

But look. It is pretty a just a tree. While real living plants pass through Rockefeller Center year round as decorative nature, one decoration has earned permanence because of the majestic impression they have made while there. These trees practically deify Rockefeller Center this time of year. Sure, the plaza has other trees, none of which block Rockefeller Center's sightline to the front entrance as the Christmas Trees do. Yet in a world where tree-hugger is a derogatory phrase, culture has a long way to go to show our full appreciation for our trees that provide the oxygen we depend on  for life. No symbolic gesture on our part hardly repays in full what trees have done for us. 

So why bother? The, under the sidewalk root structure logistics are probably far too complicated, except for one thing. One could have the feeling that, if any group could, Rockefeller's could pay for a permanent tree being done right where the elite meet dressed to the nines. So shouldn't Rockefeller Center always present its naturally best dressed self too? 
But then of course, this way, killing off the yearly big tree contrives further significance  leading up to Christmas. When with less brutally cold days as afterwards, the tree up is easily remembered as when the more pleasant days of winter were enjoyed. 

Tradition. Just crank an event up to a few stable years and even great wars are melancholily missed when they're not around anymore. They've chopped down trees for The Rockefeller Center Christmas Display since 1933in honor of the, above and below pictured, less formal, 1931 tree. And as the website claims: Best of all, The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is now greener than ever and celebrates the holidays in true eco-friendly spirit.
Whereas I'm implying, none the less, symbolically, we could do a lot better by all the trees.
SOAPBOX VIEWC@ST 
November  30, 2012