Visiting the Festival of Trees at Elm Bank has become a tradition in the Noyce/Liu household. (That's because we only have to do something twice to consider it a tradition.) Each year, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society fills an old converted carriage house at Elm Bank Reservation with a myriad of decorated (artificial) trees. Businesses, volunteers, and non-profits all stretch their imaginations to create the most fanciful tree.
This year the trees included an all-pink "princess tree," a tree decorated with peacock feathers, a couple of trees decorated with seashells, an Audubon tree covered in artificial birds, and many more. A standing green kayak served as a tree, as did several pyramids of potted cyclamen. Someone had built a tepee frame of unpeeled logs and hung strings of red and golden balls within it. Someone else had built an "engineering tree" out of K'nex pieces. It didn't look like a tree at all, but it did power a K'nex ferris wheel.
Visitors pay an entrance fee, and they can also buy tickets to enter drawings for different trees. A sheet of 26 tickets is $8, which we split among the four of us. In front of each tree is a post with a slot in the top where you can spend your tickets. Leo and Damian pooled tickets to bid on a tree with a purple and silver theme. I spent a couple on a "Serengeti Christmas"--a sculpture of a giraffe grazing on an acacia tree. David split his tickets between the giraffe and the tepee sculpture. If we win, we'll hear next Saturday and bring our tree prize home.
Outside the hall, real trees decorated in ordinary lights were scattered across the lawn, and a bonfire burned in an iron dish. We commented to each other that what with the warm weather and avoiding the malls, this was definitely the most Christmasy we've felt yet this year.