I grew up in family with an artificial Christmas tree. We weren't heathens. We were good Christians. I just never knew anything different than the tree we had, other than the ones on tv that people picked out from a converted car lot or something and wrapped up in twine like some crazy plot to a hostage movie and took it home on the top of their station wagon. (In my memory, everybody drove station wagons in the 70's). But we had our forever and ever evergreen that we just unboxed each year and put it up like the year before. We still had to assemble it, branch by branch and Matthew and I would both help mom find the right colored tip branch to put in next (bottom row black, then white, then red, then yellow, then blue, then gray, then the top). I loved putting that tree together. It meant that the season was starting. I loved Christmas music. I loved the decorations. I loved getting presents.
While we always had our tree available to us, I could understand where others didn't and had to get their's. I remember Charlie Brown and his friends picking out their little tree for the program that was so pathetic in it's sparseness that you felt sorry for it. They then showered it with love and everybody pitching in to help it and suddenly it was a gorgeously and fully decorated little tree.
I think I had my deep sense of empathy before this, but it could have help contribute to why I'm so sensitive. I loved Charlie Brown and the specials that came on once a year at the different holidays: The Halloween one, the Thanksgiving one, the Christmas one.... they were all very special to me. We didn't have the Cartoon Network. We didn't have Disney Channel or Nickelodean. When the special prime time animations were on for their annual appearance, it was SPECIAL. We'd savor that 1/2 hour of goodness. It was a part of the celebration of the season.
But that lonely and homely tree; nobody wanted it. I felt terrible for that little rejected tree. It ws the ugly duckling embraced by those that wanted to give it love and in it's moment, it shined.
My childhood empathy for that Charlie Brown tree spilled over into a habit of personification on all parts of my childhood. I would feel bad for our house whenever we were leaving it to go on vacation. We'd back out of the driveway and I'd look at it's darkened windows and sense that it felt sad that we were leaving it there while we went somewhere else. I felt bad when I could take my stuffed animals with me. It seems I could always bring one with me whenever we'd go to the lake for weeks at a time and I'd have to rotate which one I took so as not to let any of them feel too left out. I was constantly giving attributes of human emotions to inanimate things.
I was terrible about it. I still am. "Everything has emotion" was what I would say to myself. Some things worse than others. If it had a face, it was feeling emotions to me. Snowmen were always dying in my world. I hated to see their suffering as they withered away into their elder stages of slouching dirty clumps of icy mush, barely distiguishable as a snowman. Maybe that's why I didn't like to build that many of then. The fronts of cars all had attitudes to me. They're headlights and grills setting up the logical placement of eyes and maybe a mouth or teeth. some were happy, some were angry,... it depended on the car and how it sounded too. Most certainly cars had emotion. I felt bad that the car had to stay out in the garage when we all got warm beds in the house.
So yesterday, as Christmas approaches and the last days to decorate are fewer and fewer, I was at one of the Lewis Drug stores here in town picking up some wrapping paper and as I walked out, I had to walk past the little area against the building where they stack up all the Christmas trees that are for sale. But this Lewis Drug was almost sold out... there was one lonely tree standing there all by it's lonesome. It was a nice tree, about 6 to 7 feet tall. I didn't notice any bald areas in amongst the needles. I wasn't going to buy it, so I didn't sit there and examine it, but I felt bad for it. Who buys a Christmas tree 5 days before Christmas?
I hurried to my car but when I got in and started my car, I had to look back again and wonder if I should buy that tree. I don't need that tree, maybe I could give it to somebody that does...but I didn't. So it sat there. No Charlie Brown or gang... not that it needed it... but it was alone. I'm sure it's doing just fine. In the meantime I had to drive off in my happy Jeep Wrangler, he loves the snow and ice and his 4 wheel drive!
I'm just a creative guy that's looking to throw all this spaghetti onto the wall and hope something sticks.