If alien beings visited the earth, aliens from a civilization thousands of years more advanced than our own, aliens with super-high IQ's that could solve even the most difficult Sodoku like that - how would we explain the custom of having Christmas trees?
"See, Zarnuk, we take a tree - not just any tree, it's got to be an evergreen, chop it down and bring it in the house. Then we cover it with lights and shiny stuff. In a few weeks, we take all that stuff off and throw the tree away."
Imagine Zarnuk's perplexity. "Why don't you just bring a dead squirrel into the house, dress him in a tuxedo or evening gown, and put it on the mantelpiece while you're at it?"
Nancy and I used to disagree on the subject of Christmas trees. Nancy prefers a live tree - by "live," she means dead - and I've always maintained an artificial tree would be more environmentally friendly - especially the environment of my wallet. For a while I tried convincing her that we could get that "live tree ambiance" by hanging a few pine-scented air-fresheners around and scattering some dead needles on the floor, but she wasn't having it.
A few times we tried going together to select the tree. Some families are able to do this. They eagerly go to the tree lot, happily discuss the merits of the Frazier Fir versus the Scotch Pine, cheerfully load it on the station wagon and come home, all smiles, to drink eggnog or hot cocoa. This does not work for us.
Something about being amid those rows of Christmas trees drives ordinary people insane. I am convinced that the Donner Party, trapped in Sierra Nevada in 1846, resorted to cannibalism because they were surrounded by evergreens. All those potential Christmas trees - which one was the straightest, which was the fullest,which was the Christmas-tree-iest - drove them crazy.