You were no doubt too busy translating Goethe's Faust from the original German into Sanskrit by candlelight last night to bother with such frivolities as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting. Fortunately, members of the media were able to report on this annual celebration of our nation's boundless forests and surplus electricity. The tradition dates back to 1931, when America was in the midst of similarly jubilant era of strength and prosperity.
The first tree, in fact, was put up by construction workers in the plot of land that had just been cleared to build what is now called Rockefeller Center. The 20 feet tall balsam fir tree was decorated with "strings of cranberries, garlands of paper, and even a few tin cans." Today's tree probably wouldn't be caught dead standing next to its primitive, tawdry forefather. Good thing today's tree is basically already dead, having been chopped down soon after it survived a freaking hurricane. The 80-feet-tall Norway Spruce from New Jersey was 80 years old.
The Associated Press reports that Mayor Bloomberg and other officials turned on the tree's 30,000 lights at 9 p.m. last night. The ritual was broadcast on NBC and, according to the network, "featured performances from Trace Adkins, Mariah Carey, CeeLo Green (NBC's 'The Voice'), Victoria Justice, Chris Mann, Rod Stewart and Il Volo, with special appearances by Billy Crystal and Bette Milder." We regret missing it, but at least we can finally retire the word "special," now that the last drops of meaning have squeezed out of it.
Happy 19-year-old Queens nursing student Zuri Young was among the thousands who gathered in Rockefeller Center to watch the tree lighting and make snarky bloggers suddenly feel like cynical, lonely nihilists. "It makes me want to sing and dance," Young told the AP, clutching her boyfriend's arm and exuding a simple emotion that we've heard referred to as "joy." Young's excitement was echoed by Donna D'Agostino, a lifelong New Yorker who watched the ceremony with her 17-year-old daughter and revealed, "It's a bucket list item."
Speaking of bucket lists, we hope the tree's list includes being chopped up into two-by-fours, because come January 7th it's off to the lumber yard! But for a good cause! Since 2007, Rockefeller Center has been putting the tree carcass to good use by donating it to Habitat for Humanity, which uses it for lumber in home construction.