Saturday, November 05, 2005

A Sign that the End May Be Nigh...

I'm thinking of getting an artificial Christmas tree.

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:

Real Tree
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)

Fake Tree
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? Posted by Picasa


LoieJ said...

If you get a fake tree, get a good one. A cheap one looks more charlie brown than a Norfolk Island Pine.

We are fortunate to be able to cut a tree somewhere near our house. I like the semi-charlie brown type where the ornaments actually hand down rather than lay on the branches.

Cathy said...

Fake Christmas trees "ain't what they used to be" - takes us about 5 minutes to put together and the lights are already on it. Plug it in and it's good to go. Has 1000 lights on it. Will never turn back.

LutheranChik said...

I feel a little better now.

Actually, another positive about the artificial trees is having more of a selection as to shape. I like a narrower tree with some significant space between the branches so I can hang my ornaments easily. If you've ever seen black spruce -- they're the evergreens you often see in swampy areas, at least in my part of the country -- they're my idea of the perfect Christmas tree. Around here, the tree farmers tend to trim trees so that they're somewhat chubby, with the branches upturned, which can make it difficult to get the ornaments to hang well. If I can find a good quality artificial tree with that thinner "Nordic" look, I might have a Christmas tree metanoia. (Unfortunately the local authorities frown upon slogging into swamps on state land and cutting down black spruce.;-))

LutheranChik said...

Anyone remember those silver aluminum trees that came with the colored-disk spotlight that made it change colors? LOL When I was little, I was entranced by our neighbors' aluminum tree. And I understand they're now a hot collectible.

bls said...

Why not get one of those live Christmas trees that you can plant afterwards?

We had that a few times, and planted the trees after Christmas in the backyard. They're now 50 feet tall and have even made babies.

You could donate the tree to your church, or to a friend or someone else. That way you get a real tree and do a good deed at the same time.

I don't have anything, because I won't use an artifical tree. I put up garlands, sometimes, though.

Anonymous said...

Fake trees are horrible. I would rather have no tree than a fake tree. Please don't go over to the dark side!

Verdugo said...

I haven't gone over to the Dark Side yet, but there is a lot to be said for it, I suppose. One thought, though if you do succumb to the temptations of artificiality-- buy a couple of real pine wreaths or garlands. You get that great pine smell and feel with a lot less fuss than a tree.