The Debate Continues

A columnist for my newspaper this morning extolled the benefits of having a real — as opposed to artificial — Christmas tree.

As “virtues” he cited the “fresh pine scent,” the joys of buying local from a Christmas tree farm, and the delights of getting your tree home to decorate it.

Obviously, he didn’t grow up in my house.

I recall far too many Christmases trekking through the cold and snow to find a real tree, wrestling the thing into the trunk of the car, driving back home, maneuvering the prize out of the car, and discovering it was too “fat” to fit in the stand.

Then we had to hoist it onto the front porch, dig through the garage to find a saw, shave the sides of the trunk, and place it back in the stand, where it quickly became obvious the tree leaned a bit to one side or the other and had unusual “bare” spots. By the time it was erected and inside, nobody wanted to continue the decorating — needles were strewn all over the floor; angry and hurt feelings thickened the air.

No wonder something like 50 to 75 percent of people now go with an artificial tree! Consider the advantages:

* Cost. Once you’ve made the initial investment in an artificial tree, it’s yours. No more shelling out money every year for gas to search for that perfect specimen. No more annual cash outlay to purchase it.

* Convenience. Store your artificial tree in its box, get it out as early as you’d like (hey, even keep it up all year if you want!), and know just where to find it when next Christmas rolls around. Most are easy to put up, too.

* Upkeep. Artificial trees don’t need to be watered. So you can keep Fido from lapping up the sugar water and forcing someone to constantly refill the stand.

* Fires. Real trees eventually dry out. A dry Christmas tree can go up in a blazing inferno. Who wants to come home to find their home in flames?

* Cleanup. Artificial trees generally hold their needles whereas real ones don’t. If you get a real tree, you’re going to be constantly running a sweeper or something to keep the dried needles picked up so Fido won’t swallow one.

* Allergies. Many people are allergic to Christmas trees (in particular the sap but also the pesticides used to grow it). Don’t force your guests to choose between visiting you in your home and avoiding you like a plague!

* Snakes. I suspect the last thing most folks want in their homes is a snake or other critter. However, there have been occasions when just that has happened (do a Google search and see how often!)

* Practical. Trees belong outside, you know. If you insist on having a real tree, get one that can be re-planted outside rather than using one for a couple of weeks then tossing it out with the trash!

What’s your preference — Real or Artificial Trees?

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14 thoughts on “The Debate Continues

  1. Well you are singing my song but the choir in my house will not budge an inch. So we go with real. I lost mothering points when I picked it up a tree on whim this year, or rather it picked me out when I stopped by the nursery last week to buy paper whites. Usually my kid picks out a tree and it is too big…this one is perfect and all it cost me (beyond the price tag) was a couple extra St. Nick gifts and a note from St Nick telling my kid to get over it. Forgiveness was granted. I do spend the money to buy a tree that does not drop needles and is very fresh (read sappy) Joe flatly refused my request to head north and cut our own tree down when Cole was little and I was going for the on Walton Mountain Christmas…he said, he would be standing outside freezing and muddy with Cole insisting he wanted to saw it all by himself while I sat in the car taking pictures and issuing directions. Well! I would have brought hot chocolate and snacks for everyone!!
    Debbie…snakes might be taking your case a tad to far…just saying…maybe go with bats!! Otherwise your points are sound and completely convincing.

  2. Fake! I store it with the lights still on, when november ends I get it out of storage, fluff it up and hang ornaments. One year I removed the lights and hosed it off, left it to dry on the patio. Then put lights back on and decorated it. I don’t want a live tree. But another ten yrs or so and this sucker will be pretty ratty!

    • Thanks for weighing in, Lynne. I didn’t know you could hose those babies off and air dry them — cool idea for keeping them “fresh”! And if it lasts more than a decade, I’d say you’ve gotten your money’s worth!

  3. Debbie, I’ll be honest and say I bought an artificial tree one year and I hated it. I realize that, like you mention, there are plenty of disadvantages of getting a live tree, particularly the one with the needles and our furry friends. That said, I’m proud to say that for the past three years we’ve been getting the smaller trees that come in a pot and can be replanted. They’re rather tiny, but after the holiday season, the in-laws take it to plant it in a plot of land they own. This allows us to have a live tree and know that it’s not going to be thrown out after only a couple of weeks. Nevertheless, the clean up is a nightmare. Thank goodness, Roxy’s been trained to stay away and by now, it doesn’t even grab her attention. :)

    • Bella, that sounds like the perfect solution! I love the idea of re-planting your tree. All those years we had real trees, I never knew why I kept sneezing every time I went in the room with the tree — now I know it’s allergies. So artificial is my tree-of-necessity. I made sure to tell my Sheltie, though, as I was putting it up that it was NOT indoor plumbing, heehee!

  4. I’ve had live trees before and they were a pain. (Getting tree sap out of carpet is not how I like spending my evenings.) Even a tree skirt isn’t much help because the cats scrunch it up around the base of the tree. I also would feel bad after it died (just as I do when cut flowers die.)

    The artificial tree works out great. I used our cheap Wal Mart one for ten years before we bought a nicer LED pre-lit one a couple years ago. The only thing I miss from a real tree is the pine scent, so we burn a candle that gives off a passable pine scent. When we first walk into the house it *almost* smells like a pine tree!

    • I like your solution, Janna — the pine-scented candle is easier and more practical than “wasting” a whole tree, I think. And with pets in the house, one just can’t be too careful! Thanks for your opinion.

  5. Debbie, I guess I pine (pardon the pun) for my childhood, when we had a fresh pine tree. So, it’s only for the sake of nostalgia that I prefer a real tree. But you raise good, practical points. Since I don’t really buy a tree at all anymore, then I’m all for being practical. After all, I’ll always have my memories.

    • Cute pun, Monica — you have such a way with words! I rather miss the Real McCoy, too, but only because everything was easier when I was a kid and didn’t have the obligation/responsibility of “doing Christmas”! Back then, I didn’t care one fig whether the tree dripped needles or leaned; those things seem to matter more now!

  6. We had real trees for about ten years, but the mess and fear of fires finally got to me. We’ve had artificial trees since. Last year I bought a narrow, pre-lit tree. It snaps together in three steps. It’s pre-lit, so no more fighting with the lights and decorating is fun again!

    I might miss the pine scent, but I don’t miss watering daily and vacuuming up needles well into the summer months.

    • I’m with you, Terri. It’s nice being able to take down my artificial tree when I please, not when its dryness dictates! And you’re so right — decorating is fun again! I’m glad to have another person in my corner.

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