Journal entry: January 1, 1984 (age 37)
In the same archipelago as the Island of Misfit Toys sits an even more remote locale known as the Island of Forgotten Christmas Tree Ornaments. It is a kind of limbo for the ornaments that were accidentally left on Christmas trees when they were put out to the curb. Perhaps the ornament was green, and blended in too well with its surroundings. Perhaps it was hung on a high, remote branch, or tucked into the tree’s lower offshoots. In some cases, the ornament is actually eager to leave the home, after serving many degrading years on the back of the tree, banished from view in the name of “balance.”
But for whatever reason, the ornament travels to the curb with the Tannenbaum, clinging like a tree barnacle. From there it is rescued and flown to its new island home by Santa’s reindeer farm team, known as the Mighty Bucks. In a great hall at the harbor, the ornament is assigned a random last name, to distinguish it from similar ornaments and to hasten assimilation. Thus, “Elf with Candy Cane” becomes “Elf with Candy Cane Olafsson.” “Brad and Cindy’s First Christmas 1988” becomes “Brad and Cindy’s First Christmas 1988 Wang.”
New residents can then choose a living tree from which to be hung. The island is covered with all manner of Douglas firs, Scotch pines and pear trees. Some trees are home to a diverse community of ornaments, while others are more segregated. The Grove of Cheesy Vacation Ornaments has an exclusionary housing policy, and offers its branches only on a timeshare basis. Snow Baby Glen is largely homogenous, but its residents hire all manner of illegal nanny ornaments (Mary Poppins, Mrs. Claus, Best Grandma in the World picture globes, etc.). Some trees have only one ornament, such as the lonely “Punky Brewster in a Sleigh Brewster.”
One majestic pine in the center of the island towers above all the others. It is here that a ferocious battle rages day and night – the battle to be Queen of the Tree. Angels and fairy princesses of all shapes and sizes claw their way to the top of the tree, only to be thrown, roundhoused, or kicked back to the bottom by their peers. On average, a particular queen might last three to four minutes, and she spends those minutes berating and stepping on her lessers. (“Take that, Greek Orthodox Christmas Barbie Sigalas!”) The ground around this tree is littered with stars, who have neither the will nor the ambition to challenge the battling royals above.
But on one day each year, all the trees, ornaments and tree-toppers live in harmony and peace. They set aside their petty quarrels and remember their common roots. They sing songs to remind each other of their common enemies, which they refer to as the three C’s: curbs, combustion, and cats. For one day, they celebrate the fact that a community that hangs together, stays together. That day, of course, is Arbor Day.