|12/24/12 Platinum Carbon Black ink, watercolor, Gamma sketchbook|
During all my growing up years, my family got our Christmas trees from Chubby & Tubby. A Seattle institution for 56 years, this store offered Christmas trees of the “Charlie Brown” variety for $5 each (that was the price of the most recent tree we bought there; I assume it was even cheaper when I was a child).
While I was single and living alone in an apartment, I didn’t put up a tree. But after Greg and I got married, we bought our trees from C & T every year until it closed in 2003. (Then, as now, I believe a tree’s main purpose is to fill the house with the scent of natural pine and to hold up our ornaments and lights, so the tree itself doesn’t have to be esthetically perfect.) Since then, we’ve been buying our trees from Boy Scout Troop 151, which sets up a lot at the Safeway on 75th and Roosevelt. These trees cost a bit more than $5, but they look better, too.
Still, I miss the Chubby & Tubby ritual of following the stenciled footprints through the store to the crowded back lot, picking out a tree, standing in line to pay $5 for it, and receiving the mysterious aluminum key that could open a treasure chest in the store later (presumably a promotion to get people to continue shopping there after the holidays). In all those years, neither my family (when I was a child) nor I (as an adult) went back to the store after Christmas to see whether the mysterious key would open the chest, and what the chest might contain. Some things are better left to the imagination.
Most of the decorations on our tree have been gifts to me from Greg, one or two per year. A few have been purchased when we’ve traveled. Most are traditional German painted glass ornaments that are actually made in Germany (they are getting more difficult to find in recent years). While teddy bears, rabbits and moons make up the majority, a few ornaments depict more contemporary images, like a giant Hello Kitty and a Space Needle.
The shape of this year’s tree is better than some we’ve had, but as I sketched it, I noticed some uneven spots and “holes” in the branches. I was tempted to add some branches to make the tree more symmetrical. But faithful to the Urban Sketchers manifesto, I wanted to be “truthful to the scenes we witness.” I draws ‘em like I sees ‘em.