Sunday, December 18, 2005

Blessed Are

With a living room ceiling that soars 22 feet above the carpeted floor, no ordinary Christmas tree would do. A standard seven-footer, Daphne Kessler decided, would look "kind of weird," dwarfed by the second-floor balcony and the towering Palladian window.

She needed a tree majestic enough to reach toward the ceiling painted with her family's coat of arms. A tree as grand as the five-bedroom, 6,000-square-foot Great Falls home that Kessler moved into almost four years ago with her husband and two children.

So Kessler bought a 12-foot behemoth that her interior designer decorated by climbing so high up a ladder that, he said, "I feel like a monkey up here."

"I am the Ghost of Christmas Present," said the Spirit. "Look upon me!"

Scrooge reverently did so. It was clothed in one simple green robe, or mantle, bordered with white fur. This garment hung so loosely on the figure, that its capacious breast was bare, as if disdaining to be warded or concealed by any artifice. Its feet, observable beneath the ample folds of the garment, were also bare; and on its head it wore no other covering than a holly wreath, set here and there with shining icicles. Its dark brown curls were long and free: free as its genial face, its sparkling eye, its open hand, its cheery voice, its unconstrained demeanour, and its joyful air. Girded round its middle was an antique scabbard; but no sword was in it, and the ancient sheath was eaten up with rust.

-- Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

As estatelike homes have popped up across the Washington suburbs, they've spawned a must-have seasonal accessory: the supersize Christmas tree. McMansions with their two-story foyers, cathedral ceilings and great rooms are fueling a demand for trees fit for Paul Bunyan with price tags fit for Daddy Warbucks -- from $100 to more than $1,000.

A walk through Joseph Coates's Ellicott City tree lot is like a tour of a magical forest, where even pro basketball players might feel as small as elves. He specializes in 12- to 15-footers that can weigh a few hundred pounds and spread as wide as a Volkswagen.

In the past couple of weeks, he said, "a lot of people, maybe 50 or 60, have driven up and said, 'Show me the biggest one you've got.' "

One of the first drove away in a pickup with a 15-foot Fraser fir that cost $385. "It was a beast," Coates said.

-- Washington Post, Ibid.

"Mr Scrooge!'' said Bob; "I'll give you Mr Scrooge, the Founder of the Feast!''

"The Founder of the Feast indeed!'' cried Mrs Cratchit, reddening. "I wish I had him here. I'd give him a piece of my mind to feast upon, and I hope he'd have a good appetite for it.''

"My dear,'' said Bob, "the children; Christmas Day.''

"It should be Christmas Day, I am sure,'' said she, "on which one drinks the health of such an odious, stingy, hard, unfeeling man as Mr Scrooge. You know he is, Robert! Nobody knows it better than you do, poor fellow!''

"My dear,'' was Bob's mild answer, "Christmas Day.''

-- A Christmas Carol

In the Kessler household, most of the decorating was left to Christian Lund, an interior designer, who lined the walkway to the front door with 21 artificial Christmas trees standing about two feet tall and adorned with lights. He hung ornaments on the six-foot trees in the sunroom and the second-floor balcony, wreaths in the windows, garlands on the staircases. All in anticipation of a holiday party that Kessler, who runs a gift basket company, was throwing with her husband, Rick, the head of a prominent lobbying firm.

-- Washington Post, Ibid.

....a holiday party that Kessler, who runs a gift basket company, was throwing with her husband, Rick, the head of a prominent lobbying firm....

-- Neddie Jingo

In a potential violation of congressional ethics rules, five members of Congress traveled to Ireland in 2003 at the expense of a lobbying firm, disclosure records show.

Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), then-Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.) and Reps. Howard Coble (R-N.C.), Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) and Clay Shaw (R-Fla.) attended a four-day international trade seminar at Ashford Castle in County Mayo during the August recess.

Disclosure reports for the five lawmakers show that Washington lobbying firm, Kessler & Associates Business Services Inc., footed the $25,000 bill, even though congressional ethics guidelines bar lobbying firms from paying for lawmakers’ travel.

In response to inquiries from The Hill, the members’ aides confirmed that the lobbying firm had been listed as the sponsor and that they were in the process of checking into the matter.

Ed McDonald, chief of staff for Coble, said Richard S. Kessler, a veteran lobbyist and founder of Kessler & Associates, told him Monday that the lobbying firm’s parent company, Century Business Strategies, an accounting and consulting firm, had sponsored the trip.


Matt said...

What's on their family coat of arms? A picture of a Hummer running over a copy of the Constitution?

Sluggo said...

or maybe 2 boors heads rampant on a field of u.s. mint green.

oh, the hubris...

yorseu vain.

Neil Shakespeare said...

Yes, our country (can I call it 'our' country?) is getting more Dickensian by the day. Nice post, Neddie. Well, not 'nice'- none of these 'nice' people are nice - but 'revealing', shall we say, of their 'inner being'.

An Upstep or a Downstep said...

...So Kessler bought a 12-foot behemoth that her interior designer decorated by climbing so high up a ladder that, he said, "I feel like a monkey up here"...

WTF, Planet of the Apes is just around the corner...

gpdxol - the prescribed drug to rid the country of Greedy Politicians

harmfulguy said...

Dammit, Neddie, are you Oppressing Rich People again?

lonesomepolecat said...

but think of the trickledown!

Kevin Wolf said...

I mean, what good does the tree do outside just, like, living? No, sir, the tree exists to be consumed.

ntmyh - me sticking my tongue out at the Kesslers

helmut said...

"Gift basket company" indeed. And they're postmodern cynics about their Dickensitism. Clever.

mccwr -- what we're a-fightin'

Campaspe said...

Mr. Jingo, if Dickens were alive he'd be drinking your health.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

res publica said...

Great post, Neddie...I've been thinking about the same sort of things. I made my first Festivus shopping excursion the other day, and like every year, I retardedly leave the house thinking well, I know the stores will be crowded, but hey, this will be fun because, fuck, it's Christmas, right? Surely everyone is a cheery mood!

Ha. These fuckers would just as soon cut your throat as look at you if you're in the way of them cramming the last Strawberry Shortcake CD Player into their overstuffed cart so that their fat, overstimulated brat can celebrate the birth of the humble, lowly child of God in style. I have never been more relieved to be back home.