Beneath every green tree (or: תחת כל עץ רענן)

They're putting up the wood frames down around 20th and 1st, and I'm looking forward to what goes in them.

Yes, I love the smell of Christmas trees. I walk through green gauntlets of them every year, around late November or early December, when the spruce-sellers put out their wares on the streets of Manhattan. I think the pleasure is heightened because I feel absolutely no associated responsibility: I enjoy the holiday and its trappings from afar without having to celebrate it.

The comparable Jewish feeling, of course, comes just after Yom Kippur, the time of the sprouting of sukkot -- but our religion (like any other) is not for unadulterated esthetic. The minute one thinks of sukkot, one thinks (in the same moment) of Sukkot, preparations thereof, building one's own booth, meal planning, recipe hunting, purchasing the four species -- the familiar mix of anticipated exultation and exhaustion.

But Christmas trees I can stroll among, knowing that my yarmulke identifies me as a non-purchaser (the sellers, in New York, know that much, in my experience), and thus able to enjoy gratification without committment. It is as if an entire religion were growing a garden for our benefit.

I do not consider Christianity a species of idolatry (I've talked about that before), so theoretically I should make a blessing on the scent. Perhaps I'll finally remember this year, on my way to minyan.

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