A Real Tree Or Artificial? Real, Please
By dawn harris
Special to The Pilot
Recently, a friend asked me to weigh in on what I call the "Great Christmas Decorating Debate: the Christmas Tree" - real or fake?
After a few minutes, when I came up for air, the look on his face made me wonder if he wished he hadn't asked in the first place. I am not known for tossing my opinions around like confetti at a parade. But, if you ask me directly, be ready to look up as I take my position on the soap box. So, since you asked, here goes:
Real. Please, let it be real.
Now, I know all of the arguments supporting the use of artificial Christmas trees. The lack of messy fallen needles on the carpet is the reason I hear most often. As a self-professed neat freak, I can actually understand this one at least a little.
I have had trees that shed needles at such an alarming rate you can hear the ping-ping as they hit the floor from across the house and the cats scatter as if dodging bullets. The broom and dustpan just take up permanent residence next to the tree for the month of December.
The other thing fake trees have going for them is that they are so easy. No going to the lot, wrest-ling the tree on top of the car, dragging it into the house (inevitably knocking a few pictures off the wall along the way), and the dreaded task of stringing up the lights.
To ask many people, they would rather be strung up themselves! Today's artificial trees practically decorate themselves - or at least come pre-lit so all one has to do is pull it out of the box, unfold it umbrella-style and you're done. Instant Christmas, no water required.
But here's the thing. (And, fair warning, I'm about to throw some religion at you.) I don't think Christmas is about convenience. It cannot have been convenient for God to give his only son to protect us from ourselves and give us the supreme gift of eternal life. It cannot have been convenient for Mary and Joseph to accept the task of bearing and raising the baby who would become a savior.
Hold on, hold on. Bear with me a minute. I can hear you saying, "What does this have to do with Christmas trees? There weren't any Christmas trees in Bethlehem." And, of course, you're right. But, even then, I think the real thing wins hands down.
Think of what it must have been like 200 or so years ago when trees first started making their way out of the forests of Europe and into the sitting room. A real tree seemingly growing out of the floor or the tabletop must have been rather miraculous.
The scent of the needles and running sap would have permeated the house connecting the inhabitants with the outdoors and, perhaps, making them just a little more grateful for the warmth of hearth and home. And the effort it took to trudge out into the snow, chop down the best specimen one could find, and carry it home on foot or by wagon must have made it all a bit more meaningful.
And that, my friends, is the main reason I believe in real Christmas trees. It isn't just the wonderful smell or the perfect imperfection of a real tree.
It is because the things that are hard and inconvenient are often those that mean the most to us and keep us warm in cold moments of life when things can seem a little bleak. So far, I have yet to find that kind of miracle in a box.
Now, aren't you glad you asked?
Dawn Harris lives with her husband and sons on a farm in Southern Pines.
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