A Not So Glamorous Tree Lighting

By Kimberly Gonzalez
SNPJ Associate Editor

Last night marked the 81st annual Rockefeller Christmas tree lighting ceremony, a gala affair held in early December in New York City. The event is always televised, so those of us who don’t live in or near the city can be part of the celebration. It’s something I usually tune into; it gets me in the Christmas spirit and there are usually a few performances I look forward to watching. Unfortunately, during this year’s broadcast I was working my part-time job and only caught a few glimpses of the program between serving customers. I was able to catch an online review of the celebration, however, and it sounded like the event was a great success.

Adding to the excitement of this year’s tree lighting were live performances by Mary J. Blige, the Goo Goo Dolls, Jewel and Mariah Carey, all of whom sang a host of Christmas carol favorites including “Joy to the World” and “White Christmas.” The renowned Radio City Rockettes also hit the stage, performing for the tens of thousands in attendance. Just before 9 p.m., New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg flipped the switch and brought 45,000 multi-colored LED lights and a nearly 10-foot-wide Swarovski crystal star to life on the 76-foot-tall tree.

Somehow, the “official tree lighting” event in my home is never quite as grand. First is the matter of putting together my tree, a six-foot hand-me-down from my grandmother which I think may be older than I am. The color coding on the branches has long worn off, making its construction more of puzzle than it was ever intended to be. And it never fails – somehow, no matter how neat I am about packing it away, my garland works itself into a giant knot. Of course the ornament hooks follow suit and tangle into a giant, sharp ball.

And then there are the lights – oh, the lights! As every Christmas tree decorator knows, the lights can be a real treat. All it takes is one tiny bulb to blow, and a whole strand is done for. The only thing worse than discovering a dead strip of lights is discovering a dead strip of lights AFTER they’ve been strung on the tree, a predicament I found myself in this year. Every light glowed colorful and bright before they made their way to the tree, but shortly after the strand around the top was kaput. An easy fix though, right? I unwrapped the dead lights from the top and picked up a few new strands from the store. It never donned on me, however, that the new lights would be significantly brighter than the old lights. 

And there you have it. I like to think if falls somewhere between Griswold family Christmas tree and Rockefeller Center Christmas tree... but we won’t vote on which end it’s closer to in that spectrum. If nothing else, at least my Christmas will be a little “brighter” this year.

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