Liz Ray has Mad Throttle

Getting rear-ended and other misadventures...

Carter-Era Tannenbaum

scooter ornament 1

Yesterday I rode my scooter to work in the pouring rain.  I needed the bike in order to transport precious cargo home from the office.  What precious cargo?  Gold?  Diamonds?  Bacon?  No, replacement branches for a late 1970s silver aluminum Christmas tree.

The 1970s gave us many things.  Things like:

Quality Fashion:



Sensible Shoes:

sensible footwear


Advances In Automotive Engineering and Design:



And Disco:



But even more important than all of that, the 1970s taught us that Christmas trees can (and should) be made of metal.  Consistent with this lesson of history, I have cherished and maintained the silver aluminum Christmas tree that my mother got in the late 70s (sometimes even against her will).

My tree has had its detractors — people of cramped, limited vision who are unable to appreciate its kitschy artistic flair.  Many an ex-boyfriend or ex-husband has criticized my little tree, e.g., Christmas trees should be green; Trees should be made of wood; Dear God, what the hell is that thing??  None of these haters is in my life anymore.   Let us never forget that Lucy dispatched Charlie Brown to get “a big shiny aluminum Christmas tree.”  If you have the tree that Lucy Van Pelt wanted, you (that is, me) are winning at life.

Thing is, 40 years takes a toll on everyone, including big, shiny aluminum Christmas trees, and mine was not immune to the ravages of time.  Traditionally, I solved this problem by strategically placing the frayed and balding aluminum “pom pom” branches in the back of the tree, facing a wall, where no one could see them.  (You know — if there is a problem — hide it and hope no one notices.)

Then a colleague — who shared my concern for curating and preserving late-70s aluminum pom-pom trees — asked the most fundamental and critical of questions: Did You Check eBay?  There I discovered that many people are in the market of selling bits and pieces of Carter-Era Tannenbaums.  So I ordered up a batch of “miscellaneous pieces of a silver pom-pom Chrismas tree, found in a garage at an estate sale.”

I won the auction (competing, as I was, with no one else at all on the planet), and I could hardly wait for the package to arrive.

And arrive it did.  A lop-sided box, poorly secured with duct tape, with my Sharpie-scrawled name scribbled across it.  I bungeed the 20 pounds of Yuletide schrapnel to my scooter and ferried it home.  When I opened the box, I was greeted with the smell of the late 70s — a mixture of stagflation, gas lines, and a hint of dry rot.  (The sweet smell of my youth.)  That smell current permeates my living room.  Others seem to find it less compelling.

But now my tree can be returned to its 1970s grandeur:

xmas tree

Have a safe and happy holiday from the folks here at Mad Throttle!

merry christmas



  1. That tree is incredible!

  2. We used to say about certain cars ” if it don’t go, chrome it”

  3. I wonder if I could grow a menorah ?

  4. Do you have one of those rotating color lights for it? That’s a must, but maybe more Johnson-era. Merry Christmas, Liz!

    • Art, you are not the first person to ask me about the spinning, light-up color wheel 🙂 I do not have one, but I saw them for sale on eBay 😉 Merry Christmas!!

  5. And people think I’m nuts for still having a old ceramic light up tree from the same era. Happy New Year to you!

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