We've always had a real Christmas tree. Germans love Weihnachtsbaume. When I was a little kid, I even had my own little tree in my room, in addition to the big family tree. The adventure of the hunt...the scent of the needles...the idiosyncracies of each year's tree...the surprises, like the little bird's nest I found in the depths of last year's blue spruce...I love real Christmas trees. Even when I was a starving post-collegiate slacker, I decorated my Norfolk Island pine; it looked just like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. (Much to the delight of my housemate's cat, who succeeded in quietly slipping away with most of the ornaments when no one was home and batting them down the basement stairs; months later we were still finding little bells and candy canes in the dark recesses of our duplex cellar.)
But...ever since I moved back to my hometown, my mother has been working on me, every year from November onward, about purchasing an artificial tree. The fact that I am the one who does the selecting, the cutting, the stand-mounting, the decorating, the watering and the take-down, seems not to make a difference; then again, she's the kind of mom who says, "Put your sweater on; I'm cold," so it makes a certain kind of cockeyed sense in our household that she finds my tree too much work.
And this year I feel myself succumbing. I'm losing my support network at the office; real-tree trimmers are dropping like flies, including one of the most back-to-the-land folks I know, who admitted to me yesterday that last year her family spent the holidays with a fake tree sprayed with balsam scent. Today while shopping for something else, I found myself evaluating fake trees in the local big-box store. And I pondered another year of listening to "Why do we have to have a real tree? I don't need a real tree. It's too much work!", and then bringing home a real tree for the annual wrestle into the tree stand while listening to, "See? I told you we should have gotten an artificial tree," and then on Epiphany dragging the tree back outside to the tune of, "Next year you're going to get an artificial tree." Not exactly holiday Kodak moments.
I made a list of pros and cons:
it smells nice
each tree is unique and lovely in its own way
I'm supporting a local tree farmer (and they're having tough times)
no needles in the carpet in July
no taking the Lord's name in vain during the stand-fitting process
For me it's no contest, really. But it's hard to not have allies. And, truth be told, it can be a drag to go tree hunting myself. It's the sort of activity that begs for a buddy or two or three...a fun outing, a few pratfalls in the snow, some hot chocolate, some assistance; not a bad way to spend a winter afternoon.
I'm telling myself that this is not a forever thing; that this is a real-tree sabbatical. That the ornaments are what have the real sentimental value, and that the tree is just a foil for those. That this is all peripheral to the real focus of Christmas anyway, so get over it. That I'll get a nice natural wreath instead.
But I want a real tree.
It's a new era in the LutheranChik household. Rats.
Good grief -- no real tree this Christmas?