Theoden Janes

Attention, SouthPark shoppers: It’s just a tree

SouthPark's Christmas tree was near completion Monday evening.
SouthPark's Christmas tree was near completion Monday evening. Contributed to The Observer

On Friday, I told my wife I wanted to have Domino’s Pizza for Thanksgiving this year instead of turkey.

She looked at me like I had just suggested we go club a bunch of baby seals. And for the next 24 hours, she berated me, belittled me, and accused me of hating pilgrims.

So on Saturday night, I did some backtracking: We’d have a plate with some turkey to put alongside the pizza. But she continued her crusade, rallying support from my parents and her parents and my sisters and some of our friends, who threatened to smear pumpkin pie all over my windshield and pour cranberry sauce in my gas tank.

So on Sunday, I caved. You win, I said. Turkey – and just turkey – it is.

OK, this didn’t actually happen. But if it did, it would all seem pretty absurd, right? As absurd, perhaps, as “Glacier-gate,” which started with SouthPark mall’s ill-fated decision to replace its traditional Christmas tree with a faux glacier that promised to make Santa Claus look like a homeless guy hanging out beneath an underpass.

Yes, messing with holiday traditions can be risky, unwise decisions. You’re bound to disappoint certain people if you go down that road. But is it worth grabbing torches and pitchforks and calling SouthPark mall anti-Christmas?

It’s not like SouthPark mall replaced Santa and is now encouraging small children to sit on the lap of Satan, or Darth Vader, or Julius Peppers.

Yet nearly 25,000 people got fired up enough to sign a petition pleading with SouthPark mall owner Simon Malls to bring the tree back because they just couldn’t bear the thought of swiping their MasterCards in a building that housed a stupid-looking glacier.

I wonder, though: Couldn’t some of those same people get fired up enough to sign online petitions regarding issues that actually matter?

Like the one encouraging Congress to change a law that puts a financial strain on many disabled veterans. Or the one that supports an act that would get recalled rental cars off the road. Or the one that advocates for the protection of endangered species.

Look, I love Christmas trees. I love decorating ours in the living room every year. I love seeing the one at Trade and Tryon in uptown and at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont and anywhere else that chooses to put up a big, sparkly one in public. And I’ll be happy to enjoy the one in SouthPark now that the mall is doing the tree thing again.

But Christmas trees WILL BE EVERYWHERE YOU GO over the next seven weeks.

One fewer wouldn’t have been a deal-breaker for me. That stupid-looking glacier might have even lifted my holiday spirits more than the traditional tree, just because it would have given my family something to laugh at on our visits.

I mean, I’m there to buy stuff I don’t need at The Apple Store and Sur La Table, not to sit around unwrapping gifts in my pajamas. Just like I’m in Starbucks to grossly overpay for coffee, not to stress out because they didn’t slap a reindeer or an ornament on my holiday-themed cup.

Remember, everyone who celebrates Christmas celebrates it just a little bit differently. It’s open to some interpretation, some self-expression.

You put a giant inflatable snowman on your lawn, I say, “Good grief, that looks awfully tacky.” I put Justin Bieber and Busta Rhymes’ version of “Little Drummer Boy” on my holiday playlist, you say, “What a dweeb Théoden is.”

And even more important to keep in mind – particularly for those now angry that perhaps I’m not taking this seriously enough: IT’S JUST A SHOPPING MALL.

Merry Christmas!

Janes: 704-358-5897;

Twitter: @theodenjanes

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