With snow on the ground and temperatures hovering around zero for the past couple of weeks now, the topic of Christmas trees is not necessarily untimely around these parts. Once Halloween comes and goes, which it soon will, it will be full-blown Christmas season–music, decorations, baking, gift buying, Lifetime Channel movies–you name it. I mean, trees have been up and lit in some local stores since the beginning of August and cartons of Egg Nog made their way into the dairy section around the beginning of October. Thanks to our first snow day awhile back, I’ve already made our first batch of shortbread, now happily eaten, and succumbed to listening to some soft carolling music. And, this very moment, my husband is at the local hardware store buying necessities for our snow fence and Christmas lights, which he plans to put up later today while the weather has warmed somewhat.
So, the question that comes to mind as the season of Noel approaches is, ‘What kind of tree does your family put up for Christmas?’. Artificial or real? I know you likely pledge allegiance to one or the other, as do I, however before I give my thoughts on the highly debatable subject, I cannot help but insert this image of the beloved Charlie Brown character from the Peanuts gang, along with his scraggly, branched tree…remember it?! That Schulz guy was a genius, by the way.
Growing up, my family almost always used our same ol’ artificial tree that had the painted wire ends which told you where on the wooden tree post each coloured branch belonged. I bet some of you know what I am speaking about here. Though it was far from resembling Charlie Brown’s tree, the five-and-a-half foot wonder certainly had its sparse spots. Nevertheless, it easily became one of our many coveted family traditions, and we looked forward to putting it up just the same. It was always a whole-hearted affair of finding and placing the correct branches on the pole, and of course, decorating it after it was finally all assembled, was the best! All five of us took turns hanging our special ornaments, some home-made, off of those little metal S-hooks, adorning the top of the tree with the same ol’ lit-up, silver star. The last step, and as kids, our most favourite, was throwing those long, thin strands of tinsel onto the branches, making a concerted effort to fill in any remaining barren areas. It may not have been the fanciest fake evergreen, but it was OUR faithful Christmas tree and we loved it…UNTIL it was time to take it apart to fit it back into its original Simpson Sears’ box. (Ever notice how it’s always easier to take something out of a box or a package, as opposed to putting it back in?). Usually mid-January, after Ukrainian Christmas came and went, that much-loved tree of ours had to be carefully and methodically dismantled, as leaving it assembled and carrying it to the basement as some people did/do, just didn’t seem right. And, someone always had the laborious job of a very thorough vacuum since our plush, beige carpet readily picked up the many stray, fake needles that went awry as we lovingly SHOVED the branches back into the worn-out, decrepit box. Ah, the memories… :-).
The truth is that it wasn’t all that long ago that each my husband and I finally, and reluctantly, resolved to donate each of our family’s colour-by-hole branched, artificial evergreens, which we had inherited, with the hopes that other families would get to enjoy them as much as we both had. After all, the imitations still had many good years left in them–an advantage over the real deal for sure. While we were sad to see our old Christmas trees go, it was time to trade in the colour-coordinated boughs for the modern-day version, which allows us to simply unfold and shape its many branches. A lot easier to handle, I must admit and we still have our many childhood ornaments by which to decorate and thereby, remember our old faithfuls. Have we ever thought about having a real tree? No, not really. We like that we can put up our artificial tree whenever we want without a lot of fuss or care, though I will admit that NOTHING beats the clean, piney smell of a freshly cut tree. The one year that my family had decided to ‘treat’ ourselves to a real pine, its addictive fragrance was one of the few things that beat out our usual tried and true choice.
No matter what side of the fence your loyalties lie in the great tree debate, I am sure that we can all agree that our choosing has more to do with the traditions and memories created from times past, in which case, it’s a win-win for all (and there’s no faking that;-).