So the big question this time of year is a real heavy weight. It divides friends and family. It engenders much discussion of pros and cons and cost-benefit analyses, tradition versus convenience. In short, which kind of Christmas tree to get: real or fake?
I’m a real tree kind of guy. Sure it’s a pain to clean up the needles and keep it watered, but the impermanence and difficulty of keeping a real tree is part of the feel for the season. A real tree means you can’t put it up after Halloweeen, expecting it to last until New Year’s Day. No, you have to wait, letting Advent takes it rightful pace, and perhaps not until Christmas Eve itself do you put it up, just like our parents and grandparents. Then everyone gathers round and decorates it on Christmas Eve. And it can then stay until the last day of Christmas, the Epiphany on January 6.
What can match the real tree for authenticity? The smell of the evergreen in your home mitigates the deadness of winter outside. No flowers, no cut grass, nothing of life and vitality out there. But in your home, a reminder of the promise of spring. Mmmm.
One of my fondest Christmas memories from childhood is when I was about 7 or 8 sneaking down to the living room on Christmas morning, about 4 am, long before anyone else was awake. I just couldn’t sleep for the excitement. And I sat in the room just staring at the tree with its beautiful smell, pretty lights, and meaningful ornaments, collected over a family’s lifetime, presents piled underneath.
Would a fake tree have been as much for that child? Maybe, but it might not have had the same deep-rooted effect. Even now I can smell the pine needles and see the greenness and almost feel the life in it. Can you tell I love Christmas trees? I bet J.R.R. Tolkien would have wanted a real one too.