Christmas is imminent. The trees have risen out of the ground and been dragged to their final resting places: strapped to the roof racks of Subaru Outbacks and lugged up flights of stairs. The captors have wrestled the tree skirt out of the linen closet and plopped their prisoner into its small dish of water. Tighten the screws around the trunk. Check the bolts. She’s locked and loaded. Now bring her the sunglasses.
Sunglasses are not a traditional Christmas decoration, except for maybe some Weekend at Bernie’s-themed bar that exists only in my mind and perhaps somewhere near Pensacola. Traditional Christmas decorations include, but are not limited to: big shiny balls, lights, popcorn garlands, something involving cranberries, and reindeers that you made out of popsicle sticks as a small child. There exists many a sunglass ornament, but nowhere are there specific sunglasses designed to accommodate the full breadth of a Christmas tree’s fir boughs. (For the record, these exist, but they are meant for a quirky optometrist’s office and not a Christmas tree.) It’s a shame that there aren’t, because really, there should be. Tell me a Christmas tree doesn’t look better with sunglasses and I will tell you that you are lying by the skin of your teeth and simply do NOT want to admit it.
Christmas decorations are sentimental, which is nice, because the season calls for it. For one month a year, it is acceptable to be publicly corny in a way that usually does not occur any other time. In December, if the door opens and a group of 12 apple-cheeked choristers are bleating “Good King, Wenceslas” at top volume outside your front door, you are legally obligated to listen to at least 15 seconds of it before slamming the door shut and closing the blinds. Feeling pleasure in this decision—to listen, and then to disengage—is a beautiful holiday tradition. But for those of the mind that Christmas is an exercise in mawkish sentimentality designed to excavate the hearts of the most miserly grinch in search of compassion, putting sunglasses on a Christmas tree is the perfect kind of decoration. It’s a gesture towards participation without descending full-on into madness. It’s a compromise.
A big Douglas fir wearing nothing but a pair of sunglasses might work wondefully as a parenting tactic, also. If your child asks, with growing insistence, why the tree hasn’t been decorated yet, you can simply tell your sweet moppet that the tree is taking a nap and simply isn’t ready to be dressed. Paint a vivid enough picture of the tree as sentient being, and one imagines your child will never ask another question again, especially when you tell little Petunia that at night, after everyone goes to bed, the tree unfolds its little arms from under the boughs and wanders to the kitchen in search of Ritz crackers and a little salami.
Make sure that this sticks. The surveillance state is real, but instead of reminding your children of that cold fact via Elf on the Shelf, tell your kiddies that the sunglasses are just there to hide the tree’s real eyes. The spirit of the season isn’t gift-giving or figgy pudding or eggnog, three ways. It’s the gentle yet unbending reminder that no matter what you do and where you go, someone is always watching.