The 2020 holiday season is off to a rocky start.
Christmas trees in cities across the country became the butt of a joke after photos of the sparse evergreens went viral on social media, many users seeing the trees as emblematic of this year’s events.
As a perennial tradition, cities both big and small set up large Christmas trees to kick off the holiday spirit.
One tree that made headlines was the new Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree that arrived from Oneonta, New York last week.
The new, 75-foot Norway spruce with its crooked branches drew a wide range of comparisons, from Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree to Ents, the fictional, elderly tree species in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.”
Others said the tree could not arrive looking better given the rise in Covid-19 cases across the country.
A spokesperson for Rockefeller Center explained the tree was still warming up to its new environment, the “Today” show reported.
"When it’s unwrapped and first put up, the branches don’t immediately all snap back into place, and those are the photos you’re seeing. It takes a while before it fully settles," the center said. "The tree is fully wrapped, branch by branch, for a couple of weeks before it is cut and driven into the city on a flatbed truck."
Rockefeller Center’s official Twitter account responded to its critics on Wednesday after its initial photo of the tree set up went viral last week.
“Wow, you all must look great right after a two-day drive, huh?” the center tweeted. “Just wait until I get my lights on!”
While the coniferous tree faced a litany of complaints for its appearance, the Rockefeller Center tree also received renewed attention for an adorable companion that came along for the 170-mile ride to New York City: a tiny, adult Saw-whet owl.
The bird was rescued and treated at the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center, where it was scheduled to be released on facility grounds in Saugerties, New York, two hours north of the city.
The Fountain Square Christmas Tree in Cincinnati, Ohio faced similar ridicule on social media.
The 65-foot Norway spruce arrived earlier this month with patchy gaps and broken branches, which prompted another flood of jokes on social media.
Even Stephen Colbert gave a shout out to the tree on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on Tuesday night, saying that the Cincinnati tree embodied “how we feel in 2020,” the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
Colbert poked fun at the officials who said the misshapen tree’s appearance was due in part to the branches that were still tied up in twine.
"Can I start using that excuse?" Colbert asked. "I know it may look like I haven't exercised since March, but it's just the twine. If you untwine me I'm harder than a Hemsworth.”
In Boston, a disheveled Christmas tree was put on display for 11 days before being chopped down after the city received a string of complaints on its website and social media, Boston.com reported.
A spokesperson for Boston’s public works department said the tree set up in the neighborhood of Brighton in Boston was one of 41 others delivered from Nova Scotia, Canada, according to the newspaper.
The multiple trees were on display across different neighborhoods in the city, but the evergreen in Brighton was the only one that was chopped down, the paper reported.
What remains is a literal stump.
In a post on a Facebook page dedicated to old and new sights in the Brighton-Allston area, a Facebook user said Tuesday that the tree should not have been delivered in the first place.
James Rojas, a reporter for WBZ News Radio, posted photos on Twitter on Tuesday with the caption: “This Christmas tree in Brighton was supposed to bring some ‘xmas’ cheer but instead is creating some Christmas jeers.”
On Twitter last Tuesday, the Cincinnati tree shared a few words of its own in response to the online ridicule.
“Like all of us, I’m just doing the best I can in these trying times,” the account said.