Don’t hate me because I put up an artificial tree…my weekly column for your reading pleasure?
“O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can’st give me…”
There are so many divides in this world that I would like to close the deep chasm on at least one. You do not have a better Christmas soul if you put up a real tree. Perhaps I am a bit defensive here since I have been decorating the same “fake” tree for years. In fact, it has been so many years it now resembles a “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree, with missing branches and the rest twisted towards the front to make it appear fuller. I place it in a corner, so no one is the wiser (until, of course, I reveal my secret in this column.) I transform my “Charlie Brown tree” into a fully dressed, dripping with decorations, stuffed with thick ribbon, proud lady crowned with a gold wicker star. The star wears a sign that announces to one and all that “Memories Are Made Every Christmas.”
I have thought about getting a new tree festooned with lights so I do not have to drape the tree with lights myself, but I have now abandoned white sparklies for several strings of colourful lights that look like candy drops, and are easy to string on the tree. They look festive and for some reason I am no longer anal about whether or not the wires show.
This year I probably only put up a quarter of my Christmas decorations—which you would think would mean my Christmas spirit was lacking and the décor scant. But no, I just have a lot of decorations. And I must admit I am planning a bit ahead. What goes up must come down. When I finally take the decorations down in March (just kidding) the job will not be overwhelming. (I must add here that because I put up a fake tree, I do have the option of taking the tree down in March. Just sayin….)
Do not get me wrong. I love real trees—and am happy that our local prices are not anywhere near what New Yorkers are having to pay. I am sure we have all heard of the $1000 specialty trees, but at $85.00 a foot for a normal tree, even a more modest tree takes a bite from the Christmas budget. My fake tree is looking better and better in comparison.
I read an article in the Windsor Star by The Washington Post’s Jura Koncius, who has, as a design writer in years past, “been a traditionalist, making clear my disdain (for anything) artificial”. She chastised (her) colleagues” by calling their “pre-lit, remote-controlled trees tacky.” She admitted that in 1999 she wrote an article “shaming people who had fake trees.” She is now ashamed of herself, as she has taken the plunge and joined the “other side”. She has gone “fake” for several reasons—and saving her marriage was the first one (her husband had apparently better things to do than spend two days of his life on strings of lights that never seemed to work.)
She also said that they succumbed to buying a fake tree because they did not want tree branch scratch marks on their newly painted walls, sap stains on their rug, or watermarks on the hardwood floor from watering the tree daily. While she still claims that the “real thing is worth it” she admits that “real life gets in the way”. She said that when her brother-in-law found out that they were getting a tree in a box from Home Depot, he asked “What would Martha Stewart say?” Her husband’s retort was priceless. He said. “She’d love the idea. We bought one of her trees.”
I am not here to start a “tree war”. Just because I find a fake tree meets my needs and that of my family, I am not trying to change your mind if you are a dyed in the wool “real” tree or nothing aficionado. All I am asking is for some respect. I respect your choice if is different from mine. In fact, I love the smell of a fresh tree—just not the mess (finding stray needles in July), the work: cutting off the end of the trunk so a fresh base will absorb more water; watering daily; dragging it out for recycling; and last but not least—you cannot keep it up for four months. I am proof positive that “fake” trees never die.
It seems to have become a ritual in my little clan to take our bedraggled Christmas tree out of its duct-taped ramshackle box each year and transform it into a thing of beauty (at least in our eyes). Inexplicably my family is devoted to this well-worn tree. It is our fractured tradition. And I guess, as the aforementioned Martha Stewart is reputed to say: “That is a good thing.”