Stumpy. Short. Christmas Bush. That’s just a small sampling of what critics have called it. Others have dubbed it Christmas Tree shaming.
Call it what you want, but the Christmas Tree outside the Marion County Courthouse in Fairmont has set the internet on Fire.
Several Facebook posts in a group of Fairmont residents have dubbed it Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, while others liken it to a Jello mold, due to its short, stout shape. Some wonder if the top was accidentally cut off, but one post favorably compared it to a gum drop.
Big trees need loving too, another post agreed. Another post urged tolerance because “trees, like people, come in all shapes.”
Marion County Commissioner Ernie VanGilder can’t help but chuckle a little about the whole debate.
He’s surprised about the online controversy raging over the locally-donated tree, and never thought so many would air their criticisms on social media.
“When I first heard about this I took a look at the tree, and I personally think it looks fine. Let me say I’ve seen a lot worse, but everyone has an opinion and is entitled to it,” he said.
Instead of getting mad or upset, he’s taken a different philosophy: Better is in the eye of the beholder.
Anyone who doesn’t like this year’s tree is welcome to help in 2017, he said.
VanGilder isn’t bothered by the Charlie Brown reference at all. “If you remember how that little tree made a difference, it was actually a good thing and people still talk about it.”
A post comparing it to a “Charlie Brown Christmas tree after many years of steroid treatments,” also echoed praise that there is a community tree for all to see and even criticize.
“Lots of local folks, including the woman who donated it and a local company who volunteered to help with the lights, did this in the spirit of Christmas. And I totally appreciate that,” he said.
One poster promises to donate $1 to charity for each person who “likes” the nickname Stumpy, and others were quick to match his generosity.
A woman offered to post instructions on how to vote for Stumpy.
Others want to see the lights rearranged, and a meme gently suggests giving the tree some much needed love.
VanGilder said he had to laugh when someone told him that it looked like men had put on the tree’s lights, and that’s not too far from the truth, he said with a laugh.
“I think it was men, so next year we’ll let the ladies take a shot at it.”
Pro-tree supporters are also making their voice heard online, objecting to the negativity and calling on others to remember the real reason for the holiday season.
Several suggested folks find something better to do than criticize the tree, and many expressed gratitude for it.
“I’m just happy someone took the time to make Fairmont festive,” a post reads.
It’s also brought people together in a kind of odd way, too.
“I was just thinking that whether you like it or hate it, it has definitely become a popular tree,” one post reads.