Hey, what ever happened to tinsel?
Unless you’ve lapsed into a egg nog-induced coma (henceforth to be referred to as “nogbrain”) you’re no doubt aware that the Christmas season is here. This is a glorious time of year in which children become ulcerous with anticipation and adults hazily reminisce about the disappointments of Christmases past.
Also, aunts are briefly spoken with.
Sadly, in recent years I have noted a general absence of tinsel. Once upon a time, tinsel was synonymous with Christmas. Its shiny brilliance signaled the splendor of the savior of the world coming to Earth and its cheap artificiality made it available to everyone from the portly plutocrat to the lowliest Irishman. Today, however, trees are rarely draped with tinsel. Instead they are debased with a smorgasbord of crafty knick-knacks and pop cultural twaddle. Our Christmas trees now look as if a Hallmark store vomited all over a Balsam Fir. We have traded the nobility of tinsel for fickle tchotchkes, like a man trading his Buick Regal for a single night with a Cambodian street woman.
Like all things true and pure, tinsel came from Germany. Emerging in the 1600s from the black forests of Bavaria, tinsel found favor as a simple, shiny distraction from the Thirty Years’ War and unspeakable Hessian godlessness. Much later, a single strand of tinsel was then brought to America by a doe-eyed orphan boy. The tinsel-bearing urchin was received at port by the corpulent President Grover Cleveland, who rewarded him with mustache-tickles and a pony. Newspaper accounts of this memorable encounter delighted Americans and popularized tinsel itself. All of this information and more is available in my new book, This is My Truth: The History of Tinsel & Everything Else.
I guess we’re left to try to somehow enjoy a Christmas without tinsel, which is like an Independence Day without hot dogs or a Columbus Day without scolding editorials. I’d say we’d all be better off nogbraining ourselves.
See you in my coma dreams!