Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fake vs. Real

I admit it, when it comes to Christmas, I am a purist. I believe that all cookies should be made from scratch, all presents should be wrapped with real ribbons (the person who invented those awful adhesive pop-on bows should be punished the same way as the person who invented Cool Whip), and all Christmas trees should be real.
For the past 15 years or more, I've always had a real tree. Even when I was single and living alone in the big city, I had a real potted tree that went up to my knees and was decorated with one measly string of lights. But it was real. It's mostly due to the smell, but I also love the ritual of going out and picking a tree, especially now that I have kids.
Then this year, for some reason, I started to think about going fake. It has a lot to do with the fact that we are living in a small space this year and aren't going all out with the decor, but ever since beginning the process of designing our house with our architect, I have started thinking a little greener and trying to be a little more environmentally responsible. And I also really hate putting on the lights. And more than that, I really, really hate taking off the lights when the tree is as dry as kindling and ends up a pile of dead pine needles in the carpet that don't really get completely cleaned up until March. I swear a lot while doing both.
I asked my Mom if she still had an artificial tree she could lend me on Thanksgiving, and she told me that she had upgraded to the pre-lit variety and wasn't planning on using it this year, so I could borrow it. Yes! No lights, no swearing, no Christmas-tree-set-up-tension. We brought it home after Thanksgiving dinner, put the kids to bed, and then set it up. Here are the reasons I think I may have been converted:
  1. It took 15 minutes.
  2. It came with it's own stand so we didn't have to go searching for ours, which for some reason never is in the same place twice.
  3. It was free.
  4. I realized that I wasn't going to have to water it, ever.
  5. I realized that I wasn't going to spill the water all over the floor when trying to water it.
  6. Did I mention it was pre-lit?
And perhaps the most fantastic part of it all was when the boys woke up the next morning, all it took to decorate it was finding the box of ornaments. No stress! No swearing! No tension! Just fun! Check it out:

Jack loved putting on the ornaments that look like presents the best.

The only tense moment of the tree trimming was when Max decided once he got up on Steve's shoulders that he definitely did not want to put the star on the top of the tree, but rather wanted Steve to do it while he covered his eyes. I finally got it on in the end.

The finished product. Happy kids, a decorated tree, and a Mom and Dad that were still feeling good enough to go out for hot chocolate and candy cane bagels afterwards.

I will admit that I feel that I'm cheating a bit, and the smell is greatly missed. I did go to Bath & Body Works to buy some fake tree smell plug-in air freshener things, and it's sorta like the real thing. If you're nostrils could squint, it would seem pretty close. But for this year, I think it will work. Next year, when we're in our new house, I may go back to my purist ways. Only time will tell.


sarah said...

Laura, THANK you for being my guinea pig! I, too, am a total Christmas purist. I grew up hiking back through our land (through the woods, over the field, past the beaver-pond, you get the picture) with my Dad (wielding a hachet) to chop our tree. In NYC I very sentimentally frequented the corner-tree-salespeople who came down from Vermont every December and lived out of their van to sell trees (and make a bundle, I'm sure). I've NEVER had a fake tree and always scoffed at people who did.
But my parents got one last year. All with being environmentally responsible in mind. And so we've had this decision nagging at us, too. Because a re-usable tree really does make sense.
This year I went so far as to drag the kids to Shopko one afternoon to look at their trees. I stood there for 30 minutes while Ethan tried to tug at the ornaments behind us and Ella and Asher divied up Pet Shops in their minds. I looked at the medium-scale one that was on sale. I looked at the cheap ones. I looked at the $500 one. And then I left. Because I just couldn't bring myself to buy a tree made out of plastic, that looks like plastic, and (I'm guessing but probably over-exaggerating) may smell like plastic, too.
So, can I come over and see if I could imagine your tree into our lives? You have the perfect "test" situation. A tree for free for a season. That's the way to do it! I think part of my problem was that I couldn't see spending hundreds of dollars on a tree that I might get home and absolutely hate and feel the need to go buy a $60 real tree the next day.
Ah, the dilemma!