Inverting Christmas:

A New Tradition

Ann Miceli



The people who know me best will tell you, with exasperated certainty, that I like to do things differently. They'll point out that I have a history of doing things that other folks think are strange. I'm not afraid to turn things upside down.

And, well… just between you and me-I haven't been happy with Christmas. My anxiety started back in late November when the onslaught of holiday advertising began. Buy jewelry, get a breast augmentation, go shopping-spend, buy, spend, buy. I was less than excited.

Then, on my way home from work, I heard an NPR story about the growing popularity of inverted Christmas trees. As I listened to the "holiday tree expert" emphasize the novelty of it-you wouldn't invert your main tree, he said, more likely a smaller second-I laughed out loud.

Years ago, my grandparents had a Christmas tree that hung from the ceiling-our main tree, even-we were daring. Innovators. Ahead of our time. Actually, if you want the truth, the tree just wouldn't stand on its own. We had a contest that year to see which one of my uncles could bring home the ugliest one. Uncle Pat, the youngest of the brothers, cried when he saw it. I remember being confused and fascinated by the crooked mess of branches and all the commotion.

I knew I had to do it. Hours later, my roommate and I were scheming: where could we hang it? How would we hoist it up? How the heck do we water it? We traded thoughtful, devious glances.

In the next week, I told as many people as I could. Most were too caught off guard to comment, few had clear ideas for how to get water up there.

The Internet offered little insight-though I did discover that the upside down tree dates back to 12th century Europe where it was thought to represent the Holy Trinity… and that many modern-day people are deeply offended at the thought of a star pointing toward the ground. No matter…

We had our tree raising on December 7th. We set up a rustic pulley. Screw eyes in the stump stabilized the fat rope leading up and over an exposed ceiling beam. We secured the tree with 30 feet of rope (this thing isn't going to fall!) and attempted to use a cut-open plastic jug sealed with caulk as a water receptacle. As I watched water cascade down the tree and onto the floor, I thought back to the NPR story. It only mentioned artificial trees.

Yet, fully decorated, star dangling two feet off the ground, bows cascading from the stump toward the branches, it is an impressive sight.

Early in the morning, I sleepily turn the corner and forget there is a tree hanging in my dining room. I almost poke my eye out on this strange bundle of branches dangling from our skylight. I look up… and giggle like a little girl.

© 2002