December 22, 2010

Season's Greetings


Merry Christmas from O Dock.

This is our Christmas tree for 2010.

If you read this blog, you probably wouldn't expect that I'd have a conventional Christmas tree, would you?

Actually, this may be more of a holiday tree than a 'Christmas' tree, since I don't really celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday - not that there's anything wrong with that.

I do like the spirit that everyone seems to get into at this time of year, despite their formal religious beliefs, and I think it's that spirit I choose to celebrate more than anything else. Life would sure be a lot easier to get through if people were as cheerful and forgiving throughout the year as they are now.

To make a serviceable holiday tree, you don't really need to start with a tree at all. Christmas trees are a lot like life. What you make of what you start with matters more than what you start with.

This year, we started with a seamstress' dress form.

Well, my wife did, actually. She is in charge of tree design.

I am in charge of counterproductive criticism and anything electrical.

It is really my wife who decided about 10 years ago that conventional trees are boring and that we should start with something as far away from a conventional tree as possible. I think that first year we started with a step ladder.

Over the years, we have started with department store mannequins, dinner jackets woven from plastic wreaths, a cheesy artificial tree that we completely stripped of all its plastic foliage, and one year, it was a piece of driftwood that looked like Charlie Brown's curiously comical conifer.

Another time, we paid homage to the surrealists and my wife did a painting of a tree that was titled, "This is not a tree", displayed on an appropriately illuminated artist's easel. That one backfired, though. Everyone left paintings under the tree that were entitled, "This is not a gift."

Even if you have never read any of my blog posts, one look at the old holiday 'trees' that have accumulated in our garage would convince you that I am someone best treated with a certain amount of caution.

This is probably my favorite time of year, though. I try to take a few days off from work and we spend some quiet time around the house sipping wine, eating chocolate, and admiring my wife's handiwork (which would not have come to fruition, remember, without my expert criticism). It is a time to slow down, consider where we have been over the past year, and where the next year may take us.

The problem is that I never quite get back to speed again in the new year after all of this slowing down. And in that, I may have discovered one of life's great lessons.

I'm beginning to think it is mainly Christmas that is responsible for the fact that I move a lot slower now than I did when I was 20 years old.



  1. I think my wife and your wife would find much in common. Our non-christmas non-tree this year is made from a few dead twigs that Tillerwoman scavenged from my son's back yard, and that she and our granddaughter "decorated" last weekend. The result is spectacular.

    In our case though the practice of having non-christmas non-trees is for medical reasons, after we discovered that I am allergic to christmas.

    I like your theory that christmas can be used as an excuse for why I am slower in my Laser than I was 20 years ago. I need every excuse I can find in that area.

    Have a happy, very slow non-christmas.

  2. Wine is responsible for the fact that I move a lot slower now than I did when I was 20 years old. But it does allow me to sit around the house and admire my wife.

    Are there two orphans huddling under that tree skirt?

  3. ...and we went with the traditional plastic tree...

  4. Nothing wrong with that at all, Pat.

    We paid for everything this year with the traditional plastic.

  5. Well, there have been a couple of occasions when we were not so conventional. Once, we were on vacation for Christmas; we brought along our Christmas lights with no idea what we would end up hanging them on. The condo we rented had a ficus tree, so that was our tree that year.

    A couple of years ago, we strung lights up on a couple of Sunfish in the front yard, although I don't know how much that counts, since after dark, they did look like trees.

  6. Loverly. We haven't had a tree in our six years together. We do have a box of ornaments since my sisters keep sending them to us as gifts.

    Our dog, Momo, put up solar powered LED lights on her dog house this year. She must have seen something about Snoopy doing that...

    Happy New Year, O Docker.

  7. Very cool "tree"

    Your wife might like the Tate's take on the Christmas tree:

    Happy Christmas!

  8. I think the Tate should hire Mrs O Docker next year.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Thanks for the link , JP, about the Tate's Christmas tree exhibit by artist Giorgio Sadotti.

    I was reading that article while multi-tasking at work when this line gave me pause:

    "The whip will be used during a ceremony on Twelfth Night."

    Wait, was that the Marquis de Sadotti?

    Despite Sadotti's penchant for whips, I think he might still be my kind of artist. After all, the article says "Sadotti is known for an art practice that 'celebrates the power of the nothing'."

    Since its inception, this blog has also celebrated the power of nothing.

    I like the confidence with which he has dragged a 30-foot Norwegian spruce tree into one of the world's great art museums and, without doing anything else, proclaimed it 'art'.

    He says, "For me, the challenge was to present a tree that was naturally effortless."

    Well naturally it was 'effortless'. He expended virtually no effort in the creation of this powerful work of art.

    Giorgio may have the rest of the art world fooled, but he's not sneaking this fast one past me. I know the last minute Christmas crunch he got caught by.

    "Yikes, here it is December 1st, and I still haven't gotten anything for the guys who work on my car, for aunt Gertie, or for those rubes at the Tate."

    "Ah, I've got it! The power of nothing!"

    "Right, presentation and marketing is everything!"

    I must admit, JP, I thought I was pretty good at spinning BS into graceful phrases, but this guy has me beat by a mile.

    This quoted graph is one of the most brilliant transformations of BS into high art that I have ever read:

    "A tree that managed to maintain its dignity and timeless grace. A tree that remained sublime. A tree that was familiar but strange, like all trees but no other. A tree that had potential to become another. A tree that talked. A tree as a tree as art."

    JP, I stand humbled and awestruck in the presence of such genius.

  11. I plan to celebrate Christmas this year by not publishing a post tomorrow. The post that I will not publish is a post that managed to maintain its dignity and timeless grace. A post that remained sublime. A post that was familiar but strange, like all posts but no other. A post that had potential to become another. A post that talked. A post as a post as art.

    Such a shame that nobody except me will ever read it. But that's the price you pay to appreciate high art.

  12. It's *almost* as bold as Cage's four minutes and 33 seconds and up there with the Tate's famous pile of bricks.

    But agree with Tillerman: Mrs O'Dock should be commissioned for next year.