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Love NOLA: Of trees, angels, Who Dats…and wishes

Brett Will Taylor (photo by Jason Kruppa)

Is there anything better this time of year than putting up your tree?

I mean, for starters, who doesn’t want to add shiny balls, multi-colored lights and the smell of fresh pine inside your house? Plus, there’s the added bonus that it’s perfectly reasonable–actually expected–that you drink a concoction of milk, cream, bourbon and egg while decorating (the only thing missing from that awesome libation is bacon!).

But for me, the main reason I love putting up the tree is that it presents an awesome “this is your life” moment each and every year.

When I put on the lights–or, even better, have someone in my life who does this for me–I am transported back to my childhood when my sister and I would eagerly wait each year for our dad to come home to put up those old-time gargantuan lights (the kind that actually burned ornaments–or children–if either touched them). I can still see him stringing row upon row upon row, hopping from floor to couch to chair as he made his way around the tree. My dad was gone a lot when we were little (before our parents’ divorce meant he was really gone), but each year, on that one evening where he strung the lights, we were as tight and as real and as happy as any other family.

When I put up the ornaments, I remember all the different years I’ve had a tree. Some are from my childhood. I have a few ornaments that my Aunt Etta meticulously made each year; 40 years old (how the hell did that happen), they still sparkle as brightly as when she assembled them in between puffs on her ever-present True cigarettes.

Most of the ornaments, though, come from my adult life. I have the very first ornament I ever bought, which I put on the very first tree I bought. The tree cost $100…and came up to my waist (what was it that Bush2 said about doing young and foolish things when you are young and foolish?). I have ornaments purchased while traveling through awesome places like Santa Fe and the Grand Canyon with an awesome man.

My mom’s cousin gives me an official State of Texas ornament each year because, you know, it’s Texas and, dadgumit, wouldn’t you have an official ornament, each year, if you were the State of Texas? I now have 15 of these ornaments, by the way, in case you’d like to borrow one.

I have ridiculously ornate ornaments I bought when I made a lot of money and really cool ones I treasure now that I don’t. I have lots of angels because you can never have too many angels. On the tree or in your life. Now that I live here, I of course also have a number of NOLA-themed ornaments because, like angels, you can never have enough Who Dat. On the tree or in your life!

Everything goes up. Each and every year. Even the ornaments that, when purchased, seemed simply stunning and, now, seem rather gaudy. It all goes up. Because we don’t get to erase the past, even those parts we wish we could. Which ain’t all bad, because you never know what you might learn from the past when you take it down from the attic, out of the musty boxes and put it out in the open for all to see.

Last night, as I was putting up this year’s tree (an awesome fir awesomely delivered and centered in its stand by the awesome folks at Harold’s), I decided to add a new tradition to the mix.

I decided to ask each and every person who graces my stoop between now and the New Year to honor the tree, and the season, by writing on a piece of paper (which they then place on the tree) their wish for the new year. It can be a wish for themselves, for our city, for the world. Whatever.

Of course, I let Tyra Banks get things started (my dog, not the supermodel–though she’s welcome to stop by). I didn’t look, but I’m pretty sure Tyra wished for an abundance of chow-chow…and the complete eradication of squirrels. I asked the UPS and Post Office guys to add theirs today, too. And I’ll keep on asking. Anyone who stops by. For whatever reason.

Because, like angels and Who Dats, in these times particularly, you can never have enough wishes. On your tree. Or in your life.

Brett Will Taylor writes Love: NOLA weekly for NolaVie. Visit his blog at




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