He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods--the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn't thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I was in New York City earlier this week for what has become an annual pilgrimage, with a friend, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to visit our tree, the 20-foot blue spruce decorated with an 18th-century Neapolitan Nativity scene. We also stopped by Rockefeller Center to see its more garish if wildly popular descendant and, finally, for the second year in a row, paid respects to the Christmas tree vendor who has staked out a sidewalk claim on the Upper West Side with a sign of the times: "Gluten-Free Trees!"
I may have mentioned before (actually, just about every year, more or less, for the past decade), that I do not have a Christmas tree in my house. It's a little Grinchy/Scroogey of me, I know. And I'm sure there are many deep-seated psychological reasons for my arbor-less Yuletide habit.
But I've also noted the contradiction that I love other people's Christmas trees. For me, it's a spectator sport. I enjoy seeing them posed fully decorated in houses and store windows; strewn undecorated and for sale across parking lots like pop-up forests; and strapped triumphantly to the roofs of passing SUVs. I've even developed a tolerance for those giant inflatable Xmas tree-shaped lawn decorations being buffeted by icy winds to the point where they appear ready to take flight like blimps.
Bookmas Tree hunting has also become one of my Christmas tree traditions. I love discovering what booksellers and other bookish elves are doing with variations on the Bookmas Tree theme. This year, once again, I've been dashing through the virtual snow in a digital sleigh to find what social media's holiday global village has on offer. Here are a few highlights thus far:
Battenkill Books, Cambridge, N.Y.: Owner Connie Brooks shared a pic of the shop's "book-tree-ladder" designed by staff member Heather Boyne.
Murder by the Book, Houston, Tex.: "Our Annual Advent promotion kicks off tomorrow. Each year we pick 24 books to highlight, one for each day of Advent. This year our theme is Edgar award winners and nominees. We’ve also selected 8 books for young readers to represent Hanukkah. All our picks are 20% off. And while you’re in, check out our new holiday decorations."
Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Mich.: "A book tree glows in Tree Town."
Lake Country Booksellers, White Bear Lake, Minn., shared a photo last month of its holiday season book tree.
Posman Books at Rockefeller Center, Manhattan: "Time to decorate your tree, and your window! Make it warm with these sweater-like ornaments."
Stirling Books & Brew, Albion, Mich.: "Decorating for Christmas!"
ReadWithMe.Raleigh, Raleigh, N.C.: "Our #givingtree benefits the Raleigh Rescue Mission's children. Help us to #givebooks this holiday season. Gifts will be delivered Friday so please stop by or email us soon if you'd like to participate. Thanks!"
Katy Budget Books, Houston, Tex.: "While the store is decorated, we do not have a book tree up this year. Do you have one? We want to see them!"
Ink@84 Books & Drink, London: "Wassail! We're celebrating our 2nd birthday this Thu Dec 7th with mulled wine & mince pies from 6-8pm to say huge thanks to all our lovely customers for their fantastic support. Stop by!"
Booka Bookshop, Oswestry, Shropshire: "A BIG BIG thank you to Emily Sutton for creating a fantastic #OneChristmasWish window display today--we love it!"
Gullivers Bookshop, Wimborne, Dorset: "We're open every Sunday until Christmas. Wimborne is lovely place to spend some time at this time of the year!"
Books A Plenty, Tauranga, New Zealand: "Mmm... smell that pine! Thanks Kaimai Christmas Trees."
And taking a chance that this counts under the unwritten Yuletide rules, here are a few seasonal bookshop chalkboard signs (The frames are made from trees, right?) to help set the mood:
Women & Children First, Chicago, Ill.: "To do: Make list, check 2x, find out who's naughty & nice."
Ferguson Books & More, Grand Forks, N.D.: "It's beginning to BOOK a lot like Christmas."
Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, Minn.: "Gifts for everyone on your list (even the grownups)."
Main Street Books, Mansfield, Ohio: "Dear Santa, How good must one be, exactly, to get ALL the books (asking for a friend.), the Bookstore Lady."
Mitzi's Books, Rapid City, S.D.: "Perfect! We needed just a dash of snow to set of our holiday decorations! #deckthehalls."
Maybe Frost's poem, which I hadn't read in a long time, will be my Christmas tree this year:
A thousand Christmas trees I didn't know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn't lay one in a letter.
I can't help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.