This week marks the anniversary of the lighting of the first national Christmas tree on the White House grounds by Calvin Coolidge on Christmas Eve in 1923. The tree was a balsam fir from Vermont and stood 48 feet high. It was also the first time electricity was used to light the green and red bulbs. In the spirit of the season, we need to go there and take part in the ceremony. Don’t forget to pack this list. We don’t want any accidents in the time continuum.
Top Ten Things Not to do at the Lighting of the First National Christmas Tree in 1923.
10 If you go, do not start singing “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.” If you do, at best, everyone will believe you were overserved with Wassel. At worst, you’ll raise questions about this thing calls “rock.” (Now you’ve done it, Julius. You are singing a song released in 1958 and trust me, brother, you are no Brenda Lee.)
9 If you go, do not ignore the warnings of Tiny, the WWF champ, to stay behind the ropes. If you do, at best, you’ll get a shove that will return you to behind the lines. At worst, Tiny, who missed his last five self-esteem group meetings, will take personal offense that you didn’t listen to him. (Don’t worry, Jamal. Tiny will tire of spinning you above his head and give you a toss. Good thing, there is snow on the ground. Oh, I didn’t see that rock where you landed. That had to have hurt.)
8 If you go, do not mess with the extension cord running from the White House to the tree. If you do, at best only the tree lights will go out. At worst, you will be the cause of the East Coast grid going down. (How embarrassing for Mr. Coolidge. Here he wanted to do something beautiful for the country, and instead, the population is shivering in their dark hovels on Christmas. I couldn’t have invented a more “Grinch stole Christmas” story if I tried, Jon. Thanks.)
7 If you go, do not take more than one sugar cookie. If you do, at best, some others will not want theirs. At worst, you will have eaten a cookie that would have marked the difference between a joyous Christmas and dismal for a sweet child. Wow another story, Joey. You are some muse.)
6 If you go, do not think you can join the Epiphany Church choir in singing Christmas carols. If you do, at best, the numbers will drown you out. At worst, you’ll take a solo part causing multiple shatterings of the White House Waterford crystal. (Talk about not being invited back next year, Jermaine. Mrs. Coolidge is in tears, and Calvin looks like he is going to explode.)
5 If you go, do not forget to take a gift. If you do, at best, no one will notice. At worse, Calvin will let you know that all the presents received are being given to the orphanage. (You might want to run down to the five and dime and pick something up, Jax. No, taking one from the plie just won’t cut it.)
4 If you go, do not remove one of the 2500 bulbs on the tree, thinking it would make a great souvenir. If you do, at best, no one will miss it. At worst, once you remove the bulb, the rest go dark. (This is 1923, Jeffery. Way before the invention of the parallel circuit light string where the others stay lit. )
3 If you go, do not forget to take off your wet boots before traipsing through the White House. If you do, at best, others will too. At worst, the head custodian of the White House will make sure you clean up the mess. (Also, Jefferson, the head custodian, is Tiny’s brother, Bigen. It looks like you will be mopping floors for a very long time.)
2 If you go, do not think you can take an ornament off the inside tree. If you do, at best security will let you put it back. At worst, you will be charged with attempting to steal government property. (Benjamin Harrison was the first to set up a tree in the White House in 1889. You just managed to grab one of the original ornaments, Jarrod. This just may be a capital crime. At least Calvin thinks so.)
1 If you go, do not bring out your “Save the Trees” protest sign. If you do, at best, you’ll get raised eyebrows. At worst, Calvin will ask the Marine Band to play some traveling music while the secret service escorts you to Pennsylvania Avenue. (Nothing like a grand exit, Jules. You certainly will be talked about, especially since you caught your trousers on the iron fence after being tossed over. The hit song Moon over Pennsylvania captured the moment.)