Monday, December 6, 2010

My Artificial Christmas Tree

I have strong opinions and a checkered past with Christmas trees. I grew up with traditional trees my entire life. The family would pile in the car Griswold style and head to the lot. We would walk around examining each specimen lying there or propped up by 2x4 plywood cross nailed to the bottom. The tree had to be inspected from each angle, making sure there was only 1 "bad spot" that could face the wall. My family liked the bushy kind. I liked the Charlie Brown style with fewer branches so you could place the ornaments into the tree and create depth. I never won. We would strap the prized recipient to the roof of the car and drive home slowly, hoping the twine would not snap and the tree would not fly off the car, causing mayhem on the road. Once home my dad would spray it down with a power hose and shake all the loose needles out. Once it was dry it was finally time to bring it into the house to decorate. Of course it was my job to make sure it was watered every few days so it did not dry into a fire waiting to happen by the time Christmas actually rolled around.

My mom did something really cool. At my bridal shower she surprised me with a box full of ornaments she had been collecting since I was born. She bought me 1 each year and I entered married life with 24 beautiful ornaments, each reflecting the time and place of their purchase, from 1976-2001, to decorate my tree with. But the tree was the problem. My husband grew up with fake trees and hated them but I could not stand the outrageous price of a fresh one! We were young and broke and living on love, hardly able to afford the $60 trees always seemed to cost. As the years passed I started developing an ethical dilemma with the Christmas tree. It seemed so frivolous, such a blatant example of the human ego and consumer excess. Trees were planted and harvested so they could sit in our homes for maybe a month to die and then were dragged to the curb and thrown into a landfill. I started balking and gave my husband a choice, a living tree or a fake tree. For quite a few years we bought living trees. They always looked pathetic, small and droopy. They could not support the weight of the ornaments and never lived long enough to make it to the next year. My poor trees never blossomed into the majestic evergreens the fantasy of my mind thought they were meant to become. My husband was supremely irritated with me.

A few years back we were faced with the tree dilemma for the umpteenth time. We had a half-dead pine sitting on the patio, but it was not suitable to decorate. Strolling through Wal Mart one afternoon we stumbled into their garden center that had been transformed into an artificial tree extravaganza. I was sick with CFS and Fibromyalgia at this point and finally got him to agree to a fake tree. He knew getting me to Wal Mart was an event in and of itself and did not have positive hope in getting me to the tree lot as well. We found a great tree at at great price and thus my love affair with the artificial tree was born. It already had all the lights, you just pulled it out of the box, stuck the pieces together and plugged it in! Throw on those 24 ornaments plus a few others we had collected along the way and viola! Christmas was decorated! I did not realize how much I loved my artificial tree until the second year we had it, when decorating for the holidays cost me nothing and setting it up was so easy I could do it myself! I even got my husband to reluctantly admit the tree was beautiful and he could not tell the difference. Now I don't even think he notices or misses the "real" tree we battled over all those years. So tomorrow the carpet gets cleaned and this weekend the tree goes up. And the greatest part of all is I don't have to take it down 'till Superbowl, for it never dies!

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