Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree!

Napa Valley Register

After 22 Christmases together, my husband and I made a groundbreaking decision, one with implications that will ripple within the family for years.

We bought a fake Christmas tree. Now, I know some of you will say, ‘What’s the big deal?’ Everyone has a fake tree these days. Fake tree makers report that fake trees are better for the environment. Fake trees owners say they look better than real trees. Apparently, fake is the new real.

But we’re talking tradition here. For as long as my husband and I have been married, we’ve always gotten a real tree, with real pine needles, real sap and a real trunk.

But having a real Christmas tree is a big commitment. As “natural” Christmas tree buyers, we were always in search of the freshest tree in Napa. I’d quiz friends and coworkers about favorite tree lots. I’d study Christmas tree ads for the best deals. I’d carefully consult calendars to determine the best day to buy the tree so it would last until well after Dec. 25.

Of course, the moment we brought the real tree home, the real work began. We would nurture that tree like a precious newborn baby to prevent it from turning into a dried-up hunk of flammable pine that could potentially burn the house down.

We experimented with giant water basins. We’d monitor heater vent positions and room temperatures. I’d check for falling needles almost hourly. We even hooked up our tree to something called a Tree I.V. That’s right, an intravenous line for your Christmas tree. You drill a small bore hole in the side of the trunk and insert a rubber hose, which then allows the tree to suck water from a gallon milk jug. One year, we even had two Tree I.V.s inserted into our tree just so it would make it through the holidays.

One by one, I’ve witnessed the demise of the real tree owners within our own family. Take Grandma Tootie and Grandpa Donnie. They’ve had a fake tree for as long as I can remember. Grandma Tootie has seven fake trees, each strategically placed throughout her home with a different theme or color scheme for each, including Americana, NASCAR and only white crystal ornaments.

A few years ago, my own parents succumbed to the faux tree hype. Arriving at their house on a December day, a suspiciously symmetrical and green-colored tree sat perkily in their living room.

What is THAT, I said.

Oh, that’s our new tree, Grandma Sue said.

A fake tree? I can’t believe this. Is nothing sacred?

It’s easier, Grandma Sue said. And when Christmas is over, we just box it up until next year.

Harrumph, I said.

My husband had hinted about going to the dark side in previous years.

Let’s get a fake tree, he’d say.

Never! I’d shout. A Christmas tree should be REAL, not something you pull out of box!

Yes, I was a real tree snob.

But as the years passed I couldn’t help but notice how more and more of my friends and family had fake trees. They were everywhere. Their faux lushness taunted me.

“Feel my immortal evergreen branches,” they cried out to me.

“You’ll never have to shove a tree in the back of your minivan again,” they whispered.

“Think of your sap-free hands,” they teased.

After spending almost $80 on a real tree last year, I finally broke down last week when my husband made the suggestion.

“Let’s get a fake tree,” he said.

I barely put up a fight. OK, I whispered.

About an hour later, he was back with a giant box. Pulling the tree sections out, the branches unfolded faster than you can say Silvertip Fir. In record time, the tree was up. It was green. It was lush looking. It was pre-lit with hundreds of glowing lights. It would never need watering.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, how lovely are thy artificial branches.

1 comment:

CM said...

Nice writing. I like the fake ones that people install upside-down on the ceiling.