O, Christmas Tree

Gifts under Christmas tree



The last time I helped pick out a fresh Christmas tree, I was about 7 years old. I remember it being cold, ridiculous and a lot of work. My dad took us out somewhere on Douglas Pass, in the middle of nowhere to pick out the perfect tree.

It was pretty much the Christmas-tree cutting scene out of “Christmas Vacation,” minus the part where Clark Griswold forgets the saw. Dad remembered the saw, and it was a good thing, because the tree I chose definitely needed some trimming. Seven-year-old girls have little sense of how large a tree on the horizon stands.

Almost 30 years later, I’m still living down my determination that we cut down “that tree,” which, of course, required trudging through waist-deep snow. Once we approached the tree spotted from afar, its real size dwarfed us tiny, frozen people. Yet, I had chosen THAT monstrous tree and it was going in our living room, no matter what.

Long story short, Dad dragged that tree back to the truck, there was a significant amount of trimming and, yes, there was a lot of sap.

We spent the rest of the time trying to defrost our extremities by a fire before cramming all five of us into the front seat of the Chevy. I was lucky enough to sit next to the gear shift so I had my knees knocked all the way home.

This story is probably the reason why Hubby and I are fake Christmas tree people.

There are real-tree people, fake-tree people, and alternative-tree people in this winter wonderland. And they all have their reasons.

Real-tree people are holiday purists. Even if everything else went wrong with Christmas, if they have an authentic evergreen tree for decoration, it’s all good. Traditional, real-tree people value the experience of cutting down their own tree, whether it’s at a tree farm or out in the boonies. They like making a day of it, the roasting of the marshmallows, the fresh air and the anchoring of the tree to their vehicles for the ride home.

Real-tree people don’t mind trudging into the forest, the risk of bringing small woodland animals into the house, and the maintenance of having a now-dead conifer at home. It’s worth it to have the fresh evergreen scent and a house that smells of the forest.

Fake-tree people think this is a lot of work for something that is going to dry up, possibly burn the house down if you forget to water it, and will scatter desiccated needles all over the house. Some feel bad for cutting down a tree that would otherwise continue growing as part of the forest ecosystem. And what a lot of work for decorated holiday enjoyment that ends with a pathetic, wizened tree sitting out on the curb, hopefully put out before Valentine’s Day.

But we must not forget the alternative-tree people. This includes those celebrating with a Festivus pole, like Florida resident Chaz Stevens. He constructed his own version of the Seinfeld alternative holiday decoration out of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans, and erected it in his state Capitol building’s rotunda.

There are less extreme members of the alternative-tree tribe. For example, I have a friend who chooses to collect the largest tumbleweed she can find every year and decorate it instead of a tree. It’s the Christmas weed. It’s resourceful, innovative and free. And actually, a decorated tumbleweed can be quite pretty.

Where would we be without the Christmas tree? Without something for cats and small children to knock over, America’s Funniest Home Videos would lack a complete category. And the noble fir tree has inspired so many versions of “O, Tannenbaum,” that without it, Alvin & the Chipmunks and Mannheim Steamroller would be bereft of tree songs in their repertoires.

We mustn’t forget the poignant scene where Charlie Brown reveals he is, in fact, a type of alternative-tree person when he rescues the droopy, nontraditional twig overcome with the weight of a solitary ornament.

Whatever kind of tree person you are, may you have a merry Christmas and may your real tree, fake tree or Festivus pole bring you joy.

Erin McIntyre is an advanced master gardener, writer and Grand Valley native. Please email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with story ideas or feedback.


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