Christmas is the biggest holiday in my family.  We spend a lot of time putting up decorations, but the most time of all is devoted to decorating the Christmas tree.  For me personally, it’s a uniquely special time because I find myself reflecting on Christmases past with absent family I very much miss, and Christmases when my own children (13 and 17) were very young.  It wakes me up to the magic of this year’s Christmas, and how wonderful it is to have loved ones close.  It makes me grateful.

I have noticed in recent Christmases that words escape my mouth that were last uttered by my father many years ago.  Things like, “make sure you turn off the tree lights before you go to bed, do you think I’m made of money?” …and… “if you expect to open any presents, then you better keep water in the tree stand.  We don’t want any fire hazards around here!”

To be truthful, I’m not sure now how much of a fire hazard Christmas trees can actually be, and it has not previously been something that concerned me, unless reminded.  For example, my first year out of college I spent in Louisiana.  Having just started a new job, I couldn’t return home.  It was the first time I had spent Christmas away from home, and I was alone.  Anxious to get into the Christmas spirit, I got a tree, ornaments, lights, and set it up in my apartment.  I was apparently much less anxious to get out of the Christmas spirit, however, because it was not until the following August that I took it down, following a threatening note from my landlord regarding “fire hazards.”

But if you think about it, Christmas trees aren’t nearly the fire hazards they once were.  If you review the early patents (you knew this was coming, it’s an IP blog), you see they actually hung lighted candles from the tree!  Take a look at the candle holding rigs in U.S. Patent Numbers 227,088 and 227,693 from 1880 (Figures 1 and 2 respectively), or the reflector support for a candle in U.S. Patent No. 298,478 from 1884 (Figure 3).  In my house, the worst thing that can happen to the tree is the cat goes for an ornament or the tinsel, and knocks something on the floor.  In 1880, that same cat could have necessitated a visit by the local fire brigade!  Standing around waiting for something like that to happen would have freaked my father out completely.  But to be fair, I don’t suppose I’d be any better.

Figure 1Figure 2Figure 3

So, relax this Christmas.  There’s no lighted candles on the tree to worry about.  Whether Christmas is a big day for you and the family, or just another in the holiday season, we at Dilworth IP, LLC wish you the best one ever.  Enjoy!

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveler, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!

~Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers


– Bill Reid
Check out Bill’s bio page

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