In what may have been a kind attempt to bring inspiration to the décor-challenged, one of my friends invited me to go with her to the Festival of Trees last weekend. This is an annual fundraiser for a local organization, where creative people decorate trees and other Christmas decorations to be displayed and then sold. Besides the trees, there are gingerbread houses, seasonal music, and an array of wonderful homemade treats like pumpkin pie and brownies. It was fun.
It was also enlightening. All the lights worked on every single tree. The ornaments were distributed evenly instead of being bunched at the eye level of the youngest decorators. Colors were coordinated. Entire sets of matching ornaments appeared to be intact. I didn't see a single tree with a homemade gingerbread ornament that a small child had taken a bite out of. (Even though crucial dental-matching evidence was lost when the culprit's baby teeth fell out, we still know who did it.)
Several of the trees were decorated around specific themes. One was hung with small toys and game pieces, including Scrabble tiles strung together to form words. It was a cute idea that would certainly fit certain members of my family. Of course, playing Scrabble at the Christmas get-together might be a bit of a challenge if half the tiles were hanging on the tree. Maybe we could just make ornaments out of the Q, the X, and the Z.
The most unique tree in the display was the one with an "outdoor sportsman" theme. I can't remember whether it had camouflage ribbon and shotgun-shell ornaments, though it certainly should have. I rather think not—just ornaments in earthy outdoor colors with subtle accents in blaze orange. Maybe the average fabric store doesn't carry a lot of camouflage ribbon.
Appropriately enough for South Dakota, the tree featured pheasant feathers. Long tail feathers stuck out from the branches at random intervals, with a bunch of them clustered near the top. This may have been intended to look like a star, but to my unsophisticated eye the total effect was more like the way my stepson's hair used to look when he first got out of bed in the morning.
The pheasant theme was carried further with several pheasant-feather mounts that presumably were borrowed from a local taxidermist. It might have worked better had these been full mounted birds. True, a pheasant is rather large to perch in the branches of an artificial spruce tree, but at least there would have been some resemblance to living roosters.
Instead, these were flat—just the pelts, as seen from the top, with the heads sort of squashed into the feathers. Admittedly, it was realistic. A rooster pheasant can end up looking exactly like that if he hangs out in the middle of the highway and dares an oncoming semi to get out of his way.
The flattened pheasants reminded me of another decoration I saw earlier this fall. It was a witch and her broom smashed against a tree trunk, along with a cautionary sign: Don't text and fly. For Halloween, it was funny. For Christmas, you might say it fell a little flat.
But it did give a whole new meaning to the term "flocked" Christmas tree.