Tonight we put up the Christmas tree. It is a beautifully patchy wind-blown evergreen from some Idaho hillside, hand-hewn, trimmed, and now decorated with multi-colored lights, white garland, strings of beads, glass ball ornaments, and most importantly (other than the wooden star on top, of course) tinsel.
Tinsel is my maybe favorite decoration on a Christmas tree, or at very least the most underrated. It is the underdog of the Christmas decoration world (not counting my parents' continuation of the Norwegian tradition of spreading pine boughs on the front step-- every visitor must decide: do we step on them or not?) I love the way tinsel looks like silver rain as it flickers in the Christmas lights. Tinsel's name, in fact, is derived from Old French's estincele, meaning "to sparkle".
Tinsel used to be made from strands of real silver, but with the financial meltdown and all, we had to settle for the plastic variety this year. I follow my mom's method of placing it carefully, one strand at a time, dripping it from the end of each branch. It's a kind of final step in decorating the tree each year
Now if i can just find some of those old-timey bubble lights...