The Tree Twins Spill the Eggnog About Santa, Nutcrackers, Baubles and More

The Tree Twins in action, spreading joy around San Francisco. (@TreeTwins/Instagram)

For five years now, they’ve shown up as soon as the holiday lights do. They’re a pair of magical and mysterious Christmas trees, dressed to the nines, who spend every December prancing around the Bay Area, spreading joy and seasonal cheer. This year, they’re at it again (face shields on and sanitizer in hand). And they’re also finally ready to reveal their true identities in an exclusive interview with KQED Arts & Culture via tree-mail, I mean email.

Other news outlets have previously reported that you are a human couple simply wearing tree costumes to spread festive joy. But that's not true, is it?
Well, we’ve been pretending to be a couple of guys in costumes, waiting for someone to call our bluff. We’re eager to share the real story behind our annual visits now. People get very nervous when we tell them we’re magical trees sent by Santa, so we’ve spent years pretending to be humans. We’ve learned to do all the human things—talk to dogs, pretend to struggle with our masks, and we have even lost balance and fallen face first onto the grass, just to seem believable!

Why have you kept your true identities as magical beings a secret from the media thus far?
When people ask questions, we always tell the truth first! Everyone says, ‘Okay sure, but what’s the real answer?’ We asked Santa about this phenomenon and all he said was, ‘Don’t get me started.’

Do you have names, or are you really just called ‘Tree 1’ and ‘Tree 2’?
Calling ourselves ‘Tree 1’ and ‘Tree 2’ is easier to explain than our real names. Tree language sounds like wind rustling through branches, and Christmas tree language sounds like an angry human struggling with lights. Most people can’t pronounce our real names—there are a lot of tinkling and cracking sounds.

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Tell us a bit about how magic trees come into the world. Is it common for your species to come in twin sets?
All North Pole Christmas trees come from the Christmas Tree Forest. Tree Twins are born when a magic snowstorm happens in that forest. Santa comes into the woods and discovers colorful trees where there had been plain old evergreens before. He hangs a tube of magic glitter lipstick on our branches, and we come to life, ready to dance, twirl and chug alarming quantities of eggnog. I mean, a lot. Epic amounts.

Do you ever communicate with regular Christmas trees? And if so, do they ever seem kind of basic to you?
Regular Christmas trees tend to roll their eyes and think we’re just showing off, but there would be no holiday without them! We wave and talk to every Christmas tree we find. Some of them are very nice, while others can be grumpy—usually because they are dry and thirsty.

How do you feel about baubles?
(Screaming) We love baubles! We stare into every shop that has a decorated tree and wish we could wear them. Whenever we try, they get tangled when we hug. Also, they attract crows, so you have to be careful.

Describe Santa’s forest for us. 
Santa’s forest has changed a bit over the years. There used to be a giant eggnog lake, but the new gingerbread dam got soggy really quickly, and when it crumbled we got beautiful rivers of eggnog flowing everywhere! There are many forests. There is a real Christmas tree forest, an artificial Christmas tree forest, a felt tree forest, even a ceramic christmas tree forest! One year, Santa tried a garlic breadstick forest, but that made everyone rush over to the peppermint forest, and now we’re waiting for that to grow back.

What’s the big man like? 
Santa is so wonderful. We follow and chat with him every day. We tell him all about the new friends we made, and the Christmas cookies, and all the dancing and the presents, and how nice everyone is. He always pretends to give a big sigh of relief when he sends us to the city for a month, but we love him!

What are parties like in the North Pole? 
Parties are so much fun! You’d be surprised to learn that reindeer like to stay home and read, and elves are notorious no-shows though. Most parties are a raucous mix of gingerbread people, snowmen, candy canes, fruitcakes (careful—they bite) and nutcrackers. Nutcrackers don’t say much but, wow, can they eat! We turn up the carols, turn on the twinkly lights, and twirl and spin all night.

What is it about San Francisco that brings you back here every year?
The city is one of the most beautiful places anywhere. People here are so friendly (even though they sometimes need a nudge) and ready to play with us. Santa really wants us to start a Christmas Parade here, and he sends us every year to build support. One day we hope to march down Market Street with an army of festive trees, candy canes, fruitcakes (remember—they bite) and other holiday characters.

What do magic trees do between January and November?
We try and get some rest, but it’s difficult. Sugarplums have dance practice, the Christmas puddings are loud talkers and snowmen are a relentless Tupperware sales force. December is peaceful by comparison.

What are your hopes for 2021?
We hope for more happiness and peace; we hope for more friendship and kind words between neighbors. And we hope we end 2021 dancing on the video screens at the top of the Salesforce tower!

To find out where the Tree Twins will be popping up next, follow them on Instagram and Twitter. They are scheduled to return to the North Pole on Christmas Eve.