Real or Fake – What is Yours?

I did it. I finally succumbed to the pressure. I bought an artificial tree this year. Maybe it’s not a big deal to you, but it was to me. To me, there were two kinds of people: Fake and Real. Not that the two can’t mix and find harmony. I grew up real, and my husband grew up fake, so he never did understand my need to go out and get a real tree. Before we were married, I visited his house at Christmas and saw that artificial tree standing perfect and straight in the living room. I wasn’t sure that I could stay with a person who had a fake tree at Christmas. I remember thinking, “They have a fake tree!”

We always had a real tree when I was a kid, and I continued that tradition with my kids. Most of the time, we would go cut our own tree. It was fun riding on the hay wagon into the field, finding the “perfect” tree and watching my husband cut it down while the rest of us tried not to freeze. The tree farms had goats to watch and hot cider to drink. And the friendly helpers knew how to tie a tree to the top of any size car.

We would drive home, the needles happily scratching the hood of our vehicle. Exhausted from untying the extreme knots in the driveway, we would happily drag the tree through the house, merrily spreading needles and sap all the way, only to find that it was too tall for our house. But it had looked so small in the great outdoors! It had also looked straight in the great outdoors. Why hadn’t we noticed that the trunk took a 90-degree sharp turn halfway up? Out in that open field, our tree had been straight and full and just the right height. I’ll just say, context is everything.

Getting a crooked tree screwed in to the tree stand is no small task. It takes the fortitude and engineering skills of two people. I would hold the tree, the branches scratching my arms, while my husband attempted to twist the screws of the tree stand into the trunk. Often, the tree would fall over. This would usually happen AFTER we had put water in the stand.

This year, with no kids at home to take out to cut the tree, I mentioned to my husband that I might get an artificial tree. “Well, we won’t have to worry about it burning down the house,” he said. That had been his biggest worry every year. It hung over him like a fog throughout the Christmas season. Somehow that real tree was going to spontaneously combust and burn our house down.

I will say, that we’ve had some issues with lights in the past – getting them evenly distributed around the tree can be problematic. Usually, part of a strand will be out. I don’t know why they even bother to give you those spare lights in the box. Does anyone really know how to replace tree lights? Also, with children decorating the tree too heavily on one side, coupled with its precarious perch in the tree stand, coupled with the cat trying to climb it, we would often wake to a loud crash in the middle of the night as the tree toppled over.

So, yesterday, I bought a tree. A tree in a box. It is just the right height and impossibly straight. It even came pre-lit.

The tree in the box came in three simple parts. After the three minutes that it took me to put it up (alone), it stood solid and firm in the attached stand. All I had to do was open it up. The lights are perfectly arranged. There are no needles on our floor. The cat is more interested in the box the tree came in than the tree.

So, what’s to miss? I missed the kids getting excited about going out together to find the perfect tree, and the group effort it took to get it home and up. I miss the evergreen smell that reminds me of my childhood. I miss everyone sitting around looking at that crooked, lop-sided, flat on one side, full on the other, haphazardly decorated tree, exclaiming – “Isn’t that the most beautiful and perfect tree!”

Categories: Editor’s Blog