I realize it's far too soon to be thinking about your Christmas tree, but I want to get the word out early because it may take a while to wrap your mind around this:
The hot new trend for this holiday season is upside-down Christmas trees.
Yeah, you read it right. The big end goes at the top. The little end goes at the bottom.
According to an article in USA today, Hammacher Schlemmer - the company with all the fascinating stuff in the catalogue in the pouch in front of your airline seat - can't keep the things in stock. They come pre-decorated for $599.95.
Good thing it's pre-decorated, because I'm not sure I could hang from the ceiling long enough to place all those ornaments.
Good ol' Target has three models of upside-down trees, ranging from $300 to $500. The best thing about an upside-down tree, says Target, is it "leaves more room on the floor for gifts!"
That's a really good point. On the other hand, if that's your main objective, then perhaps you could eliminate the tree altogether and rent a Dumpster. Think how practical that would be.
At this point, you may be wondering: How in the heck do they get a tree to stand upside down? Well, the idea is either to fasten to the wall or ceiling, or to buy one with a weighted base.
I don't know about you, but over the years, my family has had enough trouble getting Christmas trees to stand right-side up. I remember a couple that were anchored with rope to the living-room wall, and a couple more that should have been. (There's really only so much you can do, though, when somebody has had a bit too much egg nog on Christmas Eve and decides to give the tree a holiday hug.)
Apparently, the upside-down tree isn't a new idea. Twelfth-century Druids tried it in Central Europe. It didn't really catch on.
Sheryl Karas, an expert on Christmas trees, told USA Today she thinks there's "something sinister, almost bad, about it. It's a pagan thing. If they thought about it, they wouldn't do it."
I agree. That's why I'm alerting you now, so you don't run out and buy an upside-down tree without considering the potential metaphysical impact on your Christmas season.
First, there's the simple symbolism of it.
Like a flag, I would think, hanging a tree upside-down would tend to signal to the outside world: "Christmas in distress. Send help soon."
People coming over to your house for holiday parties would get a similar message: Wacko family living here. Or, at $500 per tree, they may think: Stupid, overindulgent wacko family living here.
What about Santa coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve? If I were him, I'd take one look at an upside-down tree and deposit a load of coal in the living room. (Making another solid argument for the Dumpster idea instead.)
And what about the kids on Christmas morning? They come charging down the stairs to find a new toy train set and shiny bicycle perched under an upside-down tree. They'll be paying for that in therapy 20 years down the road, I guarantee you.
So far, the merchandisers have talked only about artificial upside-down trees. That apparently leaves the market wide open for natural upside-down trees.
They would have to be imported from China, I suppose, or perhaps grown under artificial lights in underground caverns. I'll have to work on that for a while.
If the trend toward upside-down trees does continue, however, I'm ready to jump on the bandwagon with other nontraditional holiday ideas.
• Put the turkey inside the stuffing.
• Hide the kids; let the Easter eggs hunt for them.
• Make your New Year resolutions on Dec. 31, say, about 11:30 p.m. That way, if you can just exercise some self-discipline for a half-hour or so - like, "I'm going on a diet" or "I'm going to quit smoking" - you've accomplished your goal for the year.
• Shoot July 4 fireworks into the ground.
• On Halloween, children dressed up in scary costumes bring candy to your house.
Somehow, though, I doubt if these ideas catch on. Traditions are traditions for a reason, and people who try to think up silly newfangled ones are missing the point.
I'll bet they're the same people who refer to it as Xmas.
n Barry Smith is editor of the Nevada Appeal. Contact him at email@example.com or 881-1221.