I thought I had seen and heard everything. Obviously not. In the news is this unbelievable story of a 43-foot gold Christmas tree, purchased for an Abu Dhabi luxury hotel for a mere $11 million U.S. dollars. I don’t care how rich you are . . . Who buys a Christmas tree for $11 million dollars??
But this is no ordinary tree. It is adorned with gold, rubies, diamonds, and other precious stones from their hotel jeweler. The Emirates Palace Hotel must be under some heavy criticism because it is now trying to distance itself from this ostentatious display of wealth by blaming the hotel jeweler for this obscene waste of money.
Management is saying the hotel-based jeweler was solely responsible for creating and decorating the tree and that the hotel is just a venue for exhibiting the tree.
I was born at night but it wasn’t last night. No jeweler acts on his own authority to spend $11 million dollars of the hotel’s money for a Christmas tree, no matter what the budget is. Plain and simple, the owners are playing the blame game and not taking responsibility for their own actions.
I feel sorry for that poor jeweler who will now have to bear the stigma of such a costly mistake. Every year, from now on, people around the world will forever link his name with the gold Christmas tree that could have fed a Third World Country.
This spectacular waste of money comes at a time when millions of people around the world are struggling to put food on their table and put a roof over their head, when huge numbers of people are unemployed and losing hope of ever having financial security. It is also just the kind of story that underscores the perception that the wealthy care more about their baubles than they do their neighbors.
It would not be surprising if this Christmas tree story incites violence among the struggling poor in that part of the world. There is so much anger and resentment bubbling up inside people these days that we are bound to see outbreaks of the barbaric behavior of mobs.
Look at what just happened in the UK when hordes of students, enraged over the tripling of university fees newly voted on by Parliament, attacked Prince Charles’s Rolls-Royce and threw paint against the windshield, as he and Camilla were on their way to a charity ball.
This should be a happy time of year. The spirit of giving and sharing, people singing Christmas carols, chestnuts roasting on an open fire as the song goes, a feeling of bonhomie for one and all . . . and yet, this is often the saddest time of the year with people feeling isolated and alone.
I don’t think people have to hide the joy they feel during the Christmas holidays but I do think they should be sensitive enough not to throw their wealth into the faces of those who are struggling just to stay alive. With so much of the world in chaos, governments, in particular, should be mindful of their extravagant displays of ostentatious wealth.