Posts Tagged ‘christmas trees’

fake or real?

(new reviews this morning: Steel Pole Bathtub, Deep Purple, Circle Jerks)

Despite the title, this has nothing to do with Pamela Anderson.

It’s never too early to start this debate. After all, Thanksgiving is this Thursday, which means Friday, the kids will start asking when we are getting a tree.

To tree or not to tree, that is the question.

Well, getting a tree isn’t really the issue here. It’s what kind of tree.

I did the fake Christmas tree for a few years. dangertree.jpgBut every year when I put that thing together, I would end up with scratches up and down my arm, some kind of puncture wound, a tree that looked like a drunk person put it together and a near nervous breakdown. By the time the tree was done, I’d be delirious. I’d stare at it, trying to make sense of what I did, and at some point I’d be sure the branches formed a weird design, like some evil spirit, maybe an anti-Santa, that haunts innocent people and tries to ruin their holidays. That spirit sat in my sad, little tree and mocked me: “HAHAHA I foiled you again, you horrible tree-put togetherer! YOU SUCK!”

Ok, sometimes I was drunk. But that was only after trying to stick the right branches in the right slots for a few hours. Things would get a little out of control. I needed to step back and calm down a bit. A little break, a little gin and I was ready to hit the tree again. So what if in the end it resembled a Picasso painting? The point was, the tree was done. It was up. Yes, it leaned slightly to the left and there was a big bare spot on the right side, but if you turned the bare spot against the wall and tilted your head slightly, it looked almost perfect.

“Mom, why does the tree look upside down?”
“Shut up or Santa will leave you nothing but socks and underwear.”

A few years of that and I was done.

But is a real tree any better?

First you have to go to one of those giant lots where they have about 10,000 trees for sale knowing full well they will only sell about 200. It makes me feel bad to know that all of the trees going to their death. Maybe it’s Catholic guilt, maybe I’m just too emotional for my own good, but I walk up and down the aisles and look at each tree and wonder if it will be chosen by a family or if it will suffer the cruel fate of being chopped down for no good reason at all. I get a vague feeling of emptiness in the pit of my soul as I imagine the trees coming to life, like a Christmas special cartoon, and they’re all singing a sad, forlorn song – complete with dance routine – about standing and watching while their friends get taken home by loving, happy families and how it feels to be the last one picked. Or not picked at all. Just like me in second grade on the playground!! I tell all the trees that I wish I could take every single one of them home and make good use of them. They cry a little and tell me how generous and thoughtful I am and that my Christmas spirit gives them a little hope and makes them feel a little less unloved. Then I break out of my guilty reverie and my bitter cynicism kicks in, so I remind the trees that either way, they’ll probably end up in a fireplace or being smashed to pieces by the blade of a garbage truck. Because in the end, all the trees end up dead. Sure, some of them get to enjoy a week or two of bliss and get all decorated with pretty ornaments and have presents put under them, but in the end, they are all just so much mulch. That’s when the trees turn on me and I flee the lot screaming “The trees are sentient!! The trees are sentient!!”

“Mom, is Christmas getting to you again? Do you need me to get your medicine? That’s the bottle spelled G-I-N, right?”

So, both versions of the trees have their pros and cons.

Real trees smell nice. Once Christmas is over, you just pull the ornaments off and throw it outside. On the other hand, I find pine needles under my couch four months later. Every once in a while one will shake its way loose and puncture my foot or somehow end up in my dinner. I blame the evil Christmas spirit for that one.

On the other hand, driving home from the tree lot with a fresh tree tied to the roof of your car like some trophy deer while the family sings a rousing rendition of “Christmastime in Hell” is a beautiful tradition. I don’t think driving home from Target with a box on the top of your car has quite the same effect.

Fake trees.mockingtree.jpg They cost more, they don’t smell like Christmas, they hurt like hell when you put them together. Although I heard they make trees that open up like an umbrella now. Which is a great concept, but seems a bit lazy. If you’re going to buy a fake tree, you should at least get the satisfaction of martyred crying over your puncture wounds.

Another good thing about a fake tree is you don’t need to remember to water it and, you don’t lay awake at night wondering if it’s too dry and is going to spontaneously combust and set the house on fire, thus ruining Christmas for your family. Probably New Year’s and Valentine’s Day too. You also get more of a variety with fake trees. There are fiber optic trees in varying shades of purple, blue and red. There are pre-lit trees with strings of lights which, in years past I would balk at buying, and my kids would call me Satan for purchasing, but now in my years of acute laziness, short temper and bad back, seems like a good idea.

In fact, wouldn’t it be great to just get an entirely pre-decorated tree? I mean, let’s face it. We all think that decorating the Christmas tree is the best part of putting it up, right? When I think of decorating the Christmas tree, I imagine a family gathered around a tall, perfect spruce, carefully hanging heirloom ornaments on the perfectly spaced branches while Christmas carols play in the background. Steaming cups of hot cocoa piled high with marshmallows sit on a tray table (for some reason, my imaginary tray table is decorated with horses pulling a wagon through a snowy forest), next to a plate of home baked cookies. The aroma of pine needles hangs in the air, mixed with the sweet smell of gingerbread baking in the oven. Mistletoe hangs from the ceiling and every once in a while the mom and dad sneak a kiss while the kids giggle. And everyone’s eyes twinkle.

In reality, it’s more like:
We have three extra feet of tree this year, you should have bought three extra feet of lights. These ornaments are ugly. She touched me. He looked at me. Stop yelling. Put on some Christmas music. Blink 182 is not Christmas music. If you want hot chocolate so bad, make it yourself. Is something burning? Why is the tree naked over here? Close the curtains, the neighbors do not need to see you choking your brother. What is that smell? Eww, stop farting on me!

Maybe decorating the tree isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe a fake tree complete with ornaments and lights isn’t such a demonic idea after all. Still, it would feel wrong somehow. I think about those wasted trees in the parking lots, all just waiting for someone to love them. Wouldn’t giving just one tree a short lived burst of enjoyment and fulfillment be better than buying a collapsible tree that you just take out of a box and prop up every year? Which might be better than the fiasco we went through last year with the real tree.

What it comes down to is this choice: the mocking, scratching, plastic smelling tree or the singing, dancing, sentient, house destroyer tree. What a choice.

Fake or real?

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