Do you live in a home where you cannot agree on the type of Christrmas tree to purchase? Do you prefer the scents of a live tree vs. the plastic smell of an artificial tree? Do you love the convenience of being able to pack up your tree at the end of the season, knowing that all you have to do is unpack it and decorate it again the next year? I live in a home where my husband and I disagree about our Christmas tree. Here are our arguments, as well as the way we have resolved them.
Reasons I do not like a real tree
I do not like clutter. I hate to sweep and vacuum. The idea of pine needles all over my house for several weeks literally makes my skin crawl. This is reason number one why I do not like real trees: the mess. I already have two dogs that shed, I don’t need a tree that does, too.
I do not like fire hazards. I know logically that this should be my first reason for disliking a real tree: safety. They take effort to water. When you forget to water them, they become brittle and the mess (reason #1 for me) is compounded. Lights have improved over the years, but the fire hazard is still there. I already forget to water my live plants when I only have to water them once a week. Add a tree in there whose water should be updated daily, and I am feeling the energy draining even faster from my already overscheduled body.
It is really difficult to visualize the size of a real tree prior to putting it in your home in a stand. Countless movies have spoofs where the families bring home the perfect tree only to realize it would poke a hole in the ceiling if placed in their home. There is a reason countless movies depict this: it is really hard to estimate. Some trees are labeled as to size, but quite often they aren’t accurate measurements. Somehow, we have even measured a live tree only to find out that the stand lifted the tree higher than we thought and then we had to trim LOTS of it. (Refer again to reason #1)
Real trees seem like such a waste for the environment. You go get a tree. You pay for it, you put it in your home, you look at it for a few weeks (or days depending upon how soon you bought it), then you throw it in a dumpster, or have your city pick it up, or talk to your local garbage man about removal. (Assuming you aren’t one of those people who just throw it in the ditch…) When I really look at it, it seems like such a waste of a tree.
It is difficult to place the ornaments as precisely on a real tree. When decorating a fake tree, it is easy to bend a branch here or there to fill in a gap or balance out the decorations. Every time I have tried to do this to a real tree, I either snap a branch, or it just pops back to where it was with no regard to my wishes. An artificial tree would never behave so badly.
I really do not like cold weather. Buying a real tree means one more trip into the frozen tundra. It means traveling from store to store or tree farm to tree farm to find that perfect tree. All the while, your teeth are chattering, your knees are knocking, your nose is dripping and you are realizing you are tempting fate because they don’t call it the cold and flu season for nothing.
Reasons my husband does not like an artificial tree
The tree is fake. It smells more like plastic than a tree. There is something about the smell of pine sap and pine needles during the holiday season that smells like home. It’s a “comfort smell.” Warm cookies, pie, apple cider, peppermint, and REAL tree: these are the smells of the season. It’s really difficult to get excited about the smell of the artificial tree.
The tree looks fake. It is really difficult to find an artificial tree that looks real. The ones that do look real have a pretty hefty price tag. You could easily buy real trees for several years without ever reaching the price of some of the fake ones.
The artificial tree has to be stored. Storage space is a high commodity in most homes. Finding a place to put the tree is often difficult. If it is placed in the garage, there is the chance that little critters will get in there in the off-season. If it is in a closet, there is a big block of space dedicated to something that will only be taken out for a few weeks of the year.
The excitement of choice is gone. “Wonder what our tree will look like this year?” “Where will we find the perfect tree?” “Ready for our adventure, kids?” There is some excitement about going out on the trek for the tree. Everyone gets bundled up, the family talks and spends time together and there is the feeling of “team.” When you have a fake tree, the only conversation is, “Hey kids, let’s go get the tree out of the box. Yippee.”
How we resolved the artificial vs. the real debate
We have one of each. Even though I don’t enjoy the cold, I can recognize the little boy excitement my husband holds when taking the family on the tree adventure. It is very endearing. I don’t ever want to be the one to take that away from him. However, on the flip side, he can recognize the daily stress of having so much on my plate. So, he takes care of the sweeping up of the needles, the watering of the tree and the responsibility of being sure the lights are unplugged each evening. He has also assured me that the places where we get our trees plant two for every one they cut down…
On the flip side, the artificial tree has moved downstairs and has become a place for the kids to show their creativity. They are responsible for the set up and the decorating. It is a place for all their years of school ornaments, personal designs and favorite knick-knacks. Sure, they still help with the “formal” tree upstairs, but the one downstairs has come to mean no rules from the parents–just unleashed creativity from them.
Regardless of your tree decisions, just really consider the reasons for your choice. Are they the contractual rules of your dwelling place, the memories of your experiences as a child, or simply the belief that people in your family and their wishes should be considered? Create your own traditions and follow your heart. Then you will always have the perfect tree for your own specific needs.