Saturday, December 11, 2010

Faux Fir

The tree is up, and I've started decorating.
I typed that really big, like a royal proclamation, because it seems like such a big deal this year. Note to self: Leaving the country right after Thanksgiving leads to some serious anxiety about Christmas preparations upon return.

So anyway, Gerry dragged the tree inside, and I decided to get things rolling. Now about that tree...I am not a fan of artificial trees. When I was growing up, no matter what was going on at Christmastime, we had a real tree. There was the year my mom and I went out and bought a big, full, robust tree. The guy ran it through the baler and carried it to...our little red Volkswagen. My mom still remembers him saying, "Lady, you're crazy if you think this tree is going to fit in that car." She tried to talk him into lashing it on top, because we didn't have far to go, but he wouldn't do it.

Mom also remembers me gunning it up the hill to White's Tree Farm in my first car, a 1976 Volvo station wagon. We had no problems fitting a tree into THAT beast, but making it up the hill was another question.

Or how about the year I contracted a terrible case of poison ivy from the tree? We were so mad, we called the tree lot and made them give us another tree. We picked out a scrawny Charlie Brown tree and put it in the kitchen, and I gave the poison tree a wide berth the rest of the season.

Getting the tree into the stand was always an adventure. My father died when I was eleven, so for many years it was just my mom and me and anyone who happened to pass by trying to saw off branches and get the tree to stand straight. One year, a friend of my brother's was pressed into service. As he was Jewish, this was his first experience with a Christmas tree. Another year, one of my friends helped with the sawing. I think all three of us came close to peeing our pants that year, we were laughing so hard.

Getting back to fake trees, my dad once showed up with an artificial tree and expected us to use it. This was the Seventies, and technology had not yet perfected the art of faux fir. I remember a wooden pole with holes drilled in it and a pile of "branches" that looked like radiator brushes. Everything was color coded, and you were supposed to stick the branches into the pole to assemble the tree. Well, I have my suspicions that my father found this tree somewhere, and it was missing parts, because it was a fright. No one was happy, but my father was not going to spend good money on a tree when we already had one. I guess my mom talked to her friends about it, and the next thing we knew, there was a gorgeous, perfect tree on our porch. One of her friends happened to own a nursery and cut down a tree from her stock so we wouldn't have to use the radiator brushes.

So how did I end up with an artificial tree? Well, my husband was the manager of a store. A few years ago, after Christmas, he bought the tree they had used as a floor model, I suspect just to get it out of his store. Now this is not a high end tree. It's the kind of tree they'd sell at a grocery store for $39.99. And it had been on display, decorated with curly ribbon and gift cards. I didn't care how cheap it was, I really didn't want it, but we stashed it in the garage anyway. Somehow, the next year, we ended up using it, and it wasn't too bad after all. I liked all the space for ornaments, and it was pretty nice not having to water a tree or deal with the shower of needles when we took it down.

But, man, that tree is homely. I use it more like a framework, cramming on ornaments until it hardly shows, but I keep thinking, "How many more years can it last?" Remember, this tree was plugged in constantly while it was on display at the store. Wouldn't you think the lights would have burned out by now? Nope, it just keeps going and going and going.

What will I do when the lights burn out? I'm sure I'll have a fling with fresh trees for a few years. But the advantages of faux have started to grow on me. Hey, no poison ivy!


Anonymous said...

We have always had a real tree, usually a great big tree, sometime over 12 feet tall. Well, as time went by, it was more and more of a pain. Guess what- my husband went out and bought a fake tree yesterday and it looks great! The lights are nice (LEDs) and so far I think we don't even need decorations. We may add some - or not. We have it sitting on a table so it is , well, taller than me- fair amount. Since I am 5'4"'. that may not be too tall- but we have poinsetas and a Christmas cactus and candles and son big reindeer walking around on the dining room table- that's what it looks like and I am very happy with the whole look of the place.

Darling Petunia said...

Hey, anything that makes the holiday easier and more peaceful is all right with me!