Pauvre sapin
December 19, 2016 7:50 PM   Subscribe

 
I can see why they mock it. As "just a tree," it's fine. But it's not a "Christmas tree."

There's an expectation that a Christmas tree is tapered, a sort of cone shape. A palm will never be a Christmas tree. Nor a maple or an oak.

It just looks like someone half-assed it.
posted by explosion at 7:56 PM on December 19, 2016


Pelletier said his company didn’t have the time or the budget to decorate the tree the way some people would have wanted.

Is this tree something the city planned or was it just this company? I mean, I live in a city that's 24 times smaller and our tree has lights. Come on, Montreal.
posted by selfnoise at 8:00 PM on December 19, 2016


Newspaper website comments being what they are, this was a pleasant surprise:

Poor Montreal tree. Withstanding ridicule for being too old, not tall enough, not having the right look some people expect in a tree, not enough of something "up top," or the right wardrobe of decorations, and cruel comparison to other, flashier, more desirable trees, even though it's perfectly well qualified to be a Christmas Tree. Hmmmm, welcome to womanhood, tree.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:01 PM on December 19, 2016 [35 favorites]


I like it. It makes you pay attention, it is a slightly different but interesting statement shape, and it allows people to see better around it. It also lets more light come through. The multitude of yellow lights is really nice, too.
posted by amtho at 8:02 PM on December 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, it seems like whoever picked that tree had only ever seen the bound-up ones in tree lots.

(Though, honestly, I'm a lot more bothered that "let's cut down a huge tree for no good reason and transport it into the city to die" is still a thing. Just plant one!)
posted by Sys Rq at 8:03 PM on December 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


let's cut down a huge tree for no good reason and transport it into the city to die

Article says it was dying anyway. I'd guess that was partly the impetus for the whole thing.
posted by LionIndex at 8:04 PM on December 19, 2016


The article says it was "close to the end of its life." It does not say it was dying. A dying tree would make a far worse Christmas tree than this one, even.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:10 PM on December 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


(Also, every tree is close to the end of its life when you're cutting the fucking thing down.)
posted by Sys Rq at 8:11 PM on December 19, 2016 [7 favorites]


Well, no...trees have average lifespans. I moved into a house 22 years ago and could hardly see the sky, now every big old tree is gone. Manitoba maples mostly, but also a really big tree of heaven...they got old and fell apart, except for a giant elm that suddenly decided it had no resistance to Dutch elm disease.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:18 PM on December 19, 2016


Meanwhile in Glasgow: A Christmas tree in Shawlands has been put in a cage. It isn't happy.
posted by Pallas Athena at 8:23 PM on December 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Through no fault of its own, Montréal's tree has garnered coverage by the New York Times

FWIW, the New York Times recently opened a Canada bureau.
So it's natural there are going to be more quirky stories about Canada in that paper.
posted by My Dad at 8:28 PM on December 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


So there's also a whole running joke under this, that I can only half-assedly explain because my French is highly half-assed.

The French Twitter account for this poor tree references this SRC (Service Radio-Canada, aka French CBC) piece:

Conifère des mal-aimés.

Rough tl;dr transcript that I'm not going to complete because I've gotta go to bed:

Man: "It's Christmastime!"

Woman: "Look! It's the biggest one we've ever found!"

Ensuing dialogue: "Do you think that will beat New York's?" "It'll have to do."

They cut it down

"What a nightmare!"

Molotov cocktails get thrown at the tree

Society breaks down.


Now, here's where that's going:

The title of the radio piece is a riff on Pierre Lapointe's La Forêt des mal-aimés - the title track is here.

Basically, "La Forêt des mal-aimés" = "forest of the unloved."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:29 PM on December 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


The biggest Christmas Tree in Canada is at the Eaton Centre in Toronto. I think it's bigger than the one in Rockefeller Center as well.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 8:33 PM on December 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that Christmas Tree in Toronto isn't actually a tree
posted by thecjm at 8:52 PM on December 19, 2016


That's a pretty shitty Christmas tree.
posted by ch1x0r at 8:52 PM on December 19, 2016


It looks like it might be related to this tree.
posted by peeedro at 8:58 PM on December 19, 2016


selfnoise: " I mean, I live in a city that's 24 times smaller and our tree has lights. Come on, Montreal."

The article says it has 10 kilometres of light strings (six miles for the unit impaired).
posted by Mitheral at 9:01 PM on December 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Looks like a Christmas suppository. Nice try though...
posted by jim in austin at 9:04 PM on December 19, 2016


...

Is the Montreal tree using port a potties for a tree stand!?
posted by ursus_comiter at 9:06 PM on December 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I like the tree, dammit!

Too tall, too short, too wide, too flat, too pointy, cankles, top heavy, bottom heavy, six pack, muffin top, dimples, widow's peak, whatever, whatever... Let's embrace the tree for itself. Thank you for being our Christmas tree. You are a perfect you.
posted by shoesietart at 9:19 PM on December 19, 2016 [6 favorites]


One thing they never tell you about in the fawning coverage of Justin Trudeau is that, man, Canadians love to complain about the littlest things. Or maybe it's just a Montreal thing, and a Victoria thing, because people here in Victoria will complain about just the tiniest things.
posted by My Dad at 9:40 PM on December 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


A: I like it. It makes you pay attention, it is a slightly different but interesting statement shape, and it allows people to see better around it. It also lets more light come through. The multitude of yellow lights is really nice, too.

B: That's a pretty shitty Christmas tree.

While rhetoric has been heated, commentators have every hope that the pro-sapin and anti-sapin camps will find some sort of peaceful compromise.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:47 PM on December 19, 2016


Tree not tree-y enough.

Thank goodness we've got that sorted in time for the holidays. I can get back to drowning in egg nog.
posted by nfalkner at 9:52 PM on December 19, 2016


Some areas of the world it's highly impractical to get a "stereotypical" looking Christmas tree. So what if you decorate a palm tree or a maple or even just a felt tree on the wall because your pets can't handle having anything remotely plantlike in the house or they chew at it until they puke? Pretty sure the whole point of the holiday is all about hope and happiness, not being overly picky about the shape or species of tree you've got.
posted by HMSSM at 10:30 PM on December 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


I just decorated my bromeliad (whose name is Clarence) and called it a day.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 11:19 PM on December 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:06 AM on December 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


Based on everyone's descriptions I expected it to be a hunched over and floppy.

It looks like decorative tree crap I see in stores all the time. It's weird there's no lights or decorations but it's not a terrible tree.

It would fit in the giant fire place for yule perfectly.

Good tree. I like you.
posted by sio42 at 12:36 AM on December 20, 2016


Meanwhile, in northern Sweden: Is this the ugliest Christmas tree ever?
posted by effbot at 1:36 AM on December 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


My mother raised three small children by herself, in the Sixties. In Canada in those days there were just a very very few jobs that women were permitted to hold. That these positions were vastly underpaid, and certainly not sufficient to provide for a family, should go without saying.

My mother was lucky in that she was whip-smart, and somehow managed to land a job as a secretary,despite her complete lack of qualifications or connections. I didn't realize it at the time, but we were dirt-poor when that first Christmas without the "family bread-winner" rolled around. She had managed to find a landlord willing to take a chance on renting to a family with a "broken-home". So, that first December after the summer break-up, we had our own little one-bedroom place, in a converted attic, across the street from the school that my older sister and I were going to. The dining-room was converted to a bedroom for my sisters, and I had a cot, in what effectively was the living-room closet.

My mother was determined to provide what she kept referring to as a "normal christmas" at the time, but I had no idea then just how incredibly financially-difficult and stressful this must have been for her. We kids had been bugging her about getting a tree for weeks, as all our peers' homes were becoming slathered with the trappings of the season. The Xmas-tree lots were starting to look a bit bedraggled on the night she staggered in the door from work, arms laden with shopping, and announced that we were going out to get our tree.

Snow in December was normal in Vancouver in the Sixties. Ice-skating on Lost-Lagoon and trudging through snow banks was standard fare then. So we bundled up, and off we went on foot, a single-mother with a troop of kids, 4,6, and 8 years old. Arriving at the tree-lot about a mile away, we all wanted to pick trees like the ones in our friend's houses, or that we'd seen in books, and on the TV. As we looked over the symetrically-sculpted and aesthically-perfect prefered specimens, our size-ambitions continually shrunk after price-inquiries, as we reduced our expectations from 8', to 7' to 6' and then finally 5'.

To my everlasting shame, when my mother, having examined her purse, asked the lot-owner about a 4' tree, I loudly proclaimed, "That's not a real tree! That's a bush!"

So my mother asked the lot owner if she could put a deposit to hold the 6' tree that we really all had our hearts set on, and pick it up two days later, on payday.

"I'll hold it for you, no deposit necessary" he says. As he is attaching a label to it, my older sister notices some flattened and unpriced cedar shrubs, leaning agianst the fence. "What about these trees?", she asks.

"Oh people don't really use those for trees," he says. "We make wreaths from them. They don't have the right shape, and the limb-structure isn't thick enough to support lights and ornaments"

So my sister picks the biggest 10' one (we were in an attic, remember), and says "So how much?"

He names a price, 1/3 of the immaculate Blue-Spruce, or whatever it was, and off our family goes, through the blowing snow, carrying our (perfect to us) 10' tree.

We decorated it with popcorn and berry strings, and dyed paper-maché ornaments, and construction-paper chains, and a shredded tin-foil star and tinsel.

For me, a 1/2 century later, the smell of cedar-boughs, and the sound of the skidding of the current cat across the fallen drying needles on the floor in front of the crackling fireplace are still the true hallmarks of what "Christmas" and "Christmas Trees" should be about.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:41 AM on December 20, 2016 [47 favorites]


Decorating the base of the tree with porta-potties was a nice detail, though.
posted by ardgedee at 3:36 AM on December 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Jesus wept.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:56 AM on December 20, 2016


The Canadian Tire decorations made me LOL
posted by Stonkle at 3:56 AM on December 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


for me, this tree is representative of Montreal, overall. A strong desire to play with the big boys, like NYC, Paris, and London, but the inability to execute due to (likely) poor planning, poor budgeting, hiring too many people who don't know what they're doing, overworking others, hiring friends and associates, paying kickbacks, and returning favours.

you can't blame this on one individual, but a truly corrupt and sick system, that's seen organized crime linked to government lackeys and very little in terms of accountability and jail-time/restitution to the public.

If only Montreal would realize it's unique personality of being a large city in one of the more socially-progressive, democratic states in the Western world (repressive language laws and racism excepted), it truly would shine brighter than other cities, with half the effort it's putting in now.
posted by bitteroldman at 3:57 AM on December 20, 2016 [13 favorites]


The best Christmas tree is the Boston Christmas tree, which is given to Boston every year by the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, as a thank you for the help Boston sent after the 1917 munitions ship explosion that leveled much of the city.
posted by waitingtoderail at 4:23 AM on December 20, 2016 [12 favorites]


It very well may have been incompetence that brought Montreal this tree.

But I think it is a great tree for this year. It is sombre and dignified and evokes a different Christmas - a Christmas where the outside world is dangerous and barren and cold and we huddle together in the light and warmth we create through our labour and we share with the people that we love. A Christmas tree like Charlie Brown's; a Christmas that we need this awful year. The old is dying and the new cannot be born.
posted by Mistress at 4:51 AM on December 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


waitingtoderail, if that's not the most Christmasy tradition I don't know what is.
posted by INFJ at 6:57 AM on December 20, 2016


Please don't write "Montréal" if you're writing in English. It's Montreal. Thank you.
posted by zadcat at 8:06 AM on December 20, 2016


I bet Snoopy could make it look more festive.
posted by terrapin at 9:37 AM on December 20, 2016 [1 favorite]




I haven't got it in me to call a tree ugly unless it falls on someone or something like that.

Who's a good tree? You're a good tree!
posted by asperity at 11:28 AM on December 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


CitoyenK: No English media in Montreal writes "Montréal" unless it's part of an entity, like the Université de Montréal or the Journal de Montréal, which legitimately can only be named in French. "Montreal" is pronounced differently in English and in French, so it's misleading to put the accent on in ordinary usage in English.
posted by zadcat at 1:23 PM on December 20, 2016




Very few style guides are based on the recommendations of some obscure government bureau. Montreal is very, very, very, very rarely accented in English, except in literature published by the city itself. It's a pain in the ass to type an é on an English keyboard, is the main thing, I think.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:08 PM on December 20, 2016


Yep. The Montreal Gazette uses Montreal - not Montréal - in its copy, for example.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:40 PM on December 20, 2016


Yep. The Montreal Gazette uses Montreal - not Montréal - in its copy, for example.


Hate to say it , but it's probably more about politics than linguistics.
posted by CitoyenK at 4:06 PM on December 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


Yeah, well, they stole all the apostrophes off our business names, so fuck 'em.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:46 PM on December 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


That time when I mentioned the "language police" to American coworkers up for a visit and they looked at me like I was insane.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:06 PM on December 20, 2016


Nearly 40 comments before the French/English snark started...pretty good.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:36 PM on December 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


You guys are being weird about the spelling of Montreal. I live here, I promise it is both.
posted by Phalene at 4:35 AM on December 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


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