By Eilene Lyon
The Slide Years is a series in which I select an image my dad took from 1957-1982 with Kodachrome slide film, then I write a stream-of-consciousness essay – a sort of mini-memoir.
When we arrived in Guatemala in January 1974, Christmas was the furthest thing from our minds. But as the holiday season rolled around, we came to realize that we’d have to get used to more than just a lack of cold, snowy weather for Christmas.
There were none of those seemingly ordinary things that symbolize Christmas to so many people around the world: an evergreen tree. No carefully cultivated firs, pines or spruce trees carved into perfectly conical submission. Not one.
Instead, those crafty Guatemalans cut down completely ordinary deciduous trees, stripped them bare (leaves did not fall off in autumn there, either), and painted them silver – perhaps in some misguided attempt to make it look like a northern winter scene.
As the holiday came barreling down to the wire, we made the decision to go with the locally available décor for our living room. This “tree” was actually cobbled from two separate ones screwed together.
We strung up our big, sturdy electric lights and hung our collection of ornaments. The silver paint and floor-to-ceiling windows behind the tree echoed the colorful beams. I carefully draped the aluminum tinsel. I thought it looked pretty darn cool. My brothers declared it an abomination.
The next year we had fake fir.