Did You Do This With Tinsel When You Were A Kid (or an adult)?

When I was a kid, around Christmastime, my brother and I would take a piece of tinsel and stick it on the TV screen. This was back when TVs had static electricity, and it would stick there, and it would look exactly like the screen was cracked. Then we would torture our little brother and tell him that he was in trouble because we knew he had broken the TV, and once my mom even thought it was cracked. It was a hilarious prank.

I posted on my Facebook wall to see who else had done this as a kid, and crickets chirped. I know my brother and I weren’t child geniuses (especially my brother!), and we can’t have been the only ones to notice that a piece of tinsel would do this cool thing. So I want to know who else did this. C’mon, fess up.

Never heard of it, but I found exactly two posts on the internet about it. One had the added touch of then leaning a chair against it.


Of course there’s also mentions of static and arcing which reminds me of one of my physics teachers telling us why he no longer allowed mylar balloons in the house. His kid was running around with one and as he ran past the TV there was a spark between the TV and the balloon and the TV broke. He said the balloon must have picked up static as the kid was running around and it discharged to the TV. I have a feeling it was the other way around. I recall feeling static from TVs, never got a shock from a balloon.

We never got shocked doing it- that would have been horrible.

The mylar balloon thing… see, I knew my balloon phobia was perfectly valid and reasonable. I am fucking terrified of balloons.

Could be worse, could be a fucking horror of blimps.

But blimps are kind of just great big balloons.

Nope, never did that. Never even thought of it, and I had a younger brother and sister I could have tormented.

Let tinsel stick to the television: sure. Thought of it as a crack: nope.

So bizarre how we preserve something of the form of traditions. Silvery strips of plastic that rubbed gray onto our fingers.

Never did it, but one year…

Our Christmas tree was next to the TV. One year a piece of tinsel fell off of it, and went into the vent on the top/back of the TV. It sizzled, but fortunately there was no damage to the television. Got dad’s and my attention, though.

I had forgotten how cool tinsel was. The metal kind. Aluminum, I guess. It glistened.

Then came the cellophane ones. Boring.

I had an epiphany a couple of years ago that it was called tinsel because it was made out of tin.

I find tinsel distracting.

Aluminum has a very high strength-to-weight ratio.

That tinsel was not made of tin or aluminum but lead. Or maybe tin-coated lead. They quit selling it in the U.S. because it was a danger to kids and pets. We used to roll the strips into compact little balls and probably made them more compact by biting down on them as we did with lead fishing sinkers back then. Then, I suspect we threw them at each other but don’t really remember that. Certainly our brother wouldn’t have missed out on the opportunity to torment his sisters.

One of my biggest Christmas regrets is not being able to obtain some of that kind tinsel. Its weight made it hang on the tree much better than the plastic stuff and the shininess caught the colors of the Christmas lights and made them shimmer. Any little vibration or draft would cause that tinsel to jiggle and move, creating a whole play of light that you can’t get now.

When I’m rich I’m going to get hold of some that good old timey tinsel and have a whole forest of Christmas trees I can decorate with it!

When my step-father had some metal tinsel, it was an interesting surprise to me to learn that there had been earlier incarnations of tinselness.

Yeah, the plastic tinsel of today just seems wrong.

when I was a kid, and my parents still used tinsel, (they eventually got fed up with how messy the stuff was, and stopped using it) I used to stick the end of a piece between my front teeth, and blow, imagining I was breathing fire.

I blame all my developmental problems on the fact that when I was a wee thing I probably ingested some of the tinsel on our Christmas tree. The tinsel was made of lead. Real lead. We even called it lead, not tinsel.

The finishing touch was sprinkling the tree with snow, otherwise known as mica.

No wonder we kids are all a bit weird.

Ha ha! Callow youth! When I was a kid, tin-sel was actually made out of tin! Tin is a very soft and pliable metal. So we used to take a few strands of it, and smoosh it into a rough disc shape, then take it downstairs to my dad’s vise on the workbench and press it into play coins.

I miss real tinsel. It looked much nicer.

My recollection is that his tinsel was dull. I didn’t know until now that that stuff was apparently shiny and wonderful once upon a time.

Maybe tinsel actually was made out tin: my friend tells me her mother still has the lead stuff, and the box calls it “rain”.