Hi, my name is Nancy and I am an aluminum Christmas Tree addict.
Remember that movie, "Fly Away Home," where the newly hatched geese imprinted on the little girl (played by a young Anna Paquin) and thought she was their mother? Well, I imprinted from an early age on the shiny, silver Christmas trees of the 1950s and 60s. There's no help for me now.
The picture to the right was taken Christmas Eve of 1968 at my cousins' Collinsville, Illinois home.(I am the tall, awkward one in the back. My little brother is the cute redhead in front.)
We had one of these hipster trees at our house too and so did the relatives on the other side of the family, so there was no shortage of aluminum to love no matter where you were on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
As a child I found it odd when we visited friends who had impressive, real fir and pine trees in their homes. What's the matter with them? I wondered. (Although secretly I thought it was kind of daring and old-fashioned of them and wondered -- briefly -- if maybe we were the odd ones.)
Several years ago, after I discovered Ebay and before the rest of the world copped on to how hip aluminum trees are, I found a vintage 6 1/2-foot silver tree for sale and snapped it up for about $14. It arrived in its original packaging and in pristine condition. Ever since, I've put it up in my home for the holidays and have basked in the warm glow of the spinning color wheel.
(For those of you who are uninitiated, the trees were lit by a small floor light that was covered by a plastic disc of primary colors -- red, green, blue and yellow -- that rotated slowly in front of the light to throw colors onto the tree. The crinkled aluminum branches blinked with the lights and gave off an otherworldly glow that was breathtaking.)
If you recall these Christmas classics, you will remember that the branches are stored in individual paper sleeves. You pull them out of each sleeve with a whoosh, much like a Musketeer must have pulled his sword. The center "trunk" is made of wooden dowl rods covered with an aluminum paper. Holes are pre-drilled to accommodate the branches. We always hung small blue ornaments from the end of each branch.
The instructions that came with my try cautioned buyers against putting light strings on the trees, warning that lights would "mar its beauty and -- if worn or frayed -- may short out on the metal branches."
My love for the alumnium trees has led me to research them a bit. My Ebay tree came from a company called Craft House which ws located in Chicago. I suspect Chicago was ground zero of the silver tree universe. I found the book, Season's Gleamings" on Amazon which is a great way to understand more about the context of the trees. The picture here is a link to the Amazon page for the book.
I found another community of other silver tree lovers at ATOM, the Aluminum Tree and Ornament Museum in North Carolina. According to ATOM, the first aluminum trees were used in 1959, so 2009 marks the 50th anniversary. Here's a link to a YouTube video from ATOM.
Yet another group is at www.AluminumChristmasTrees.net.
Whatever your Christmas tree style, I hope you and your friends and family have a bright and shiny holiday and a sparkling new year.