Last year, Peter surprised me as we ventured out to get our new Christmas tree with the suggestion that we get a fake one instead. He’d bought a fake one the year before for his office, so that the janitor wouldn’t suffer additional work in constantly vacuuming up fallen pine needles.
I had had a long aversion to fake Christmas trees, dating back to the time my mother bought a fake Christmas tree for our home in the early 1980s. It was, without dispute, awful. Sure, it didn’t need water, drip needles, or need to be cut up for disposal. But it was also made of an awful cheap plastic, colored an obviously fake green. Any “needles” close to the Christmas tree lights we had (which, were back in that day, little colored light bulbs) melted, making a permanent green smear on the bulbs. I can’t remember clearly, but I think it smelled funny, too–certainly not like pine.
I think even my thrifty mother hated that tree enough to throw it out and get a real one the next year, because I remember those smeared bulbs on a real tree. And from then on, only a real tree, even if it could only be a small one, such as the miniature tree I bought at Woolworth’s one year, would do.
There’s no denying that the real thing has its problems, though. We’ve spent hours of our lives hunting through Christmas tree lots and once or twice, in a Christmas tree farm, for just the right tree with well-spaced branches and just the right height–followed by the annual discussion of whether to pay a third more for that perfect tree, or settle for one of a different type. Then, there’s the challenge of getting it in, which requires additonal sawing, and setting it up straight. Peter bought a special Christmas tree stand with an inner stand which could be rotated and adjusted for just this reason. There’s also the sad spectre of waste, as you know the tree was cut down just for a month, after which it gets turned into wood chips, which may or may not actually be needed by any one. And then there’s the pine needles, which we often found ourselves vacuuming out of crevices and corners into February. Oh, and not to forget the tragedy of the overflowing water bowl, which once ruined some books beneath the tree wrapped up and meant to give as presents; and its counterpart, the brown-bef0re-its-time dead tree.
Nonetheless, I was still fairly dubious about being a fake tree family, but Peter invited me to just examine the trees which were on sale at Target; if I was still opposed, we’d follow tradition and find a real tree for the season.
As it turns out, the fake trees weren’t bad, not bad at all. The models we choose from had fake bristles, but these seemed to be made of a fire-resistant paper, and looked passably real. You could get trees with lights installed on them already, sparing you from stringing new ones on–or adding to your own lights. Each had its own stable stand, so there’d never be any issue with standing it up straight, much less in a bowl of water.
We bought one, and I was won over. It assembled easily (and packed away pretty well afterwards). Assuming we use it for the next few years, it will be cheaper than getting a fresh Christmas tree each year, and we don’t have to march around a lot in cold weather having to chose and wonder what we passed up each year. And I no longer have to worry about putting wrapped books on the floor near the tree, or clean up the trail of pine needles into and out of the house, and around the tree. The only issue with it is storage, but somehow we managed to haul it into the attic last year, and I suspect we can do the same this year.
And so I have become one of those fake tree people I used to look down upon–but they’re come a long way since they had “needles” that melted.