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By Charles Seabrook:
I never wanted to be the Grinch who stole Christmas (though I have fantasized about it at times). So, it is with some trepidation that I bring up for discussion one of the most beloved icons of the holidays, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
Actually, the focus of this discussion is not so much the beloved little creature himself, but the song written in his honor — although, after much study, I would say dishonor. This time of year, “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” is played millions of times a day for millions of little children, who gleefully sing it while dancing around the Maypole (or is that on May Day?) or whatever they do at Christmas to bring peace and joy to the mall.
But should we be teaching kids this song?
Friday, April 23, 2010, was one of the saddest, most spirit-withering days of my life. I had driven to the place in downtown Atlanta where I had worked faithfully, loyally, proudly for 35 years before retiring in 2005 — The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The old tan-colored 72 Marietta Street building, my safe haven for so many years, sat lonely, forlorn, abandoned, like a moth-balled old ship that had bore us safely through the howling storms but now had no purpose. Somehow, if I had been able, I would have wrapped my arms around the old place and said, “You did good. I loved you. This is not your fault. You did not cause this.”
I’m not just an unabashed tree hugger, I’m a tree kisser. When the mood strikes me, I’ll wrap my arms around a big white oak or sassafras or tulip poplar and plant a big wet one right on the scratchy bark.
We Southern tree lovers are especially fortunate. Of 688 tree species native to the United States, one-third — 235 species — occur in the South, more than in all of Europe. And that number doesn’t include introduced and naturalized species.
Many of our native trees occur exclusively in the South or reach their greatest prominence — and grandest forms — here. Some, like the magnolia, are Southern icons. I’m sometimes asked what are my favorite Southern trees, especially those that define the South or give it a sense of place. My top 10 include…