Posted by: wrmcnutt | December 19, 2010

The Post Modern Christmas Tree


Behold!  The Post Modern Christmas Tree. The PMCT has been over twenty years in the making, and has its roots in my mother’s unwillingness to admit that I am not longer eleven years old, and the difficulty she had in buying Christmas gifts for me.  I tend to have champagne tastes and mom kept a strictly beer gift budget.

But in 1991 she hit the jackpot of gift ideas.  It was the 25th anniversary of the the creation of Star Trek, and commemorative doo-dads were flying thick and fast.  One in particular caught her eye.  It was  a scale model of the U.S.S. Enterprise (NCC-1710). I’d been a Star Trek fan since the 1960’s, and Hallmark can be counted on to turn out a solid product.  It was sturdy, visually accurate, and had blinky lights.  What could possibly be a better idea?

Well, it worked out okay.  After all, I am still a Star Trek fan, and more blinky lights on a Christmas tree are never a bad thing.  Unfortunately, Mom had hit the jackpot, and while a non-thematic childhood momento or two are not inappropriate to a Christmas tree, a tree completely buried under science-fiction and space-fantasy images don’t quite evoke the sort of holiday spirit my wife and I want to have around our tree.

Mind you, some of the ornaments went on to earn their own holiday affiliation.  The shuttlecraft Galileo-7, for example was so beloved of my young godson that we had to place a limit of one (1) triggering of the audio track per visit to our house.  There are only so many times you can hear Leonerd Nimoy say, “Shuttlecraft to Enterprise, Shuttlecraft to Enterprise:  Spock here. Happy Holidays.  Live long, and prosper,” before you are ready to set phasers on “obliterate-with-extreme-prejudice.”  But he’s twenty now, and a musician, and no longer coming over, so the old ornament has earned a poignancy it formerly lacked.

Galileo-7 is not the only ornament with sound-effects, though.  Many years after the Enterprise began it’s annual voyage round our living room tree, a Borg Cube turned up.  I’ll not drag you through a long geek out; suffice to say that this is a villain’s warship, and it’s appearance on your sensor grid almost always means that a lot of people are going to die or have their individuality erased.  When you press the button on this ornament, an eerie chorus, slightly out of sync, chants, “We are the Borg.  Enjoy your holidays.  Resistance is futile.”  Quite the holiday message, eh?

Perhaps the eeriest of the audio tracks is the figure of Locutus of Borg and the Borg Queen.  “I am Locutus of Borg.  Resistance is futile.” There is an audio track that came with the Deep Space – 9 ornament, but it’s built into the display base, and I’ve always felt that tree ornaments should, well, be on trees.

Nor was Star Trek the only medium pillaged to provide gift ideas.  Star Wars also provided tannenbaum fodder.  Over the years we were provided with the heads of Darth Vader, C-3PO, and a storm-trooper for our festive holiday decorations.

Anyway, my bride and I have spoken for several years about getting one of those aluminum tree’s that were popular in the ’70’s and moving all of my science-fiction ornaments to their own tree, that our traditional tree might flourish without the impediments inherent in photon-torpedoes and blasters.  Well, our first barrier came in finding a tree.  You can still find those silver tinsel trees made back in 1960 – 1970.  You find them in antique shops where they command prices of over $200.00!   Last year my Bride located a white artificial tree during the post-holiday sales, and so we compromised.

Grumpy Yoda HeadThe resultant display is somewhat bare.  I thought I had more science-fiction ornaments than that, but then, minimalism is post-modern, too.  I decided to stick to just a Star Trek theme this year.  Next year I may add the Star Wars ornaments as well.  I did keep one Star Wars ornament, though.  Because nothing says Christmas like a grumpy, dismembered Yoda head on your holiday tree.

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