Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fir Real

Way back in the day, when my husband and I were young and foolish and had nothing better to do with our money, we were into Christmas.  Not just into it, but WAY into it.  And the centerpiece of our yuletide obsession was the tree.  Each year we would go on a hunt for the ideal tree.  One that was tall, with lush, full green branches and a generous yet proportioned shape.  We would travel near and far, experimenting with the self cut variety and, when not felling our own tree, we would scour the local lots, thumbing our noses at lots that sold cut trees from anywhere but Vermont.

Fast forward eight years and there is a three year old and and eight month old in the picture and we were faced with the difficult decision of going "fake".   This was a nearly criminal consideration for two demented elves like the hubs and I, so we set about the process of searching for the perfect artificial tree.

After an exhaustive search, we plunked down an obscene amount of money on what promised to be a remarkably lifelike fake tree.   When it arrived in its giant box we looked upon it with a mix of skepticism and sadness as it marked the official end of the days of the glorious, pine scented, real tree. 

When we opened the box, the contents looked less than promising.  Threre were three dark green tree sections , each with its branches squished down against the trunk.   It looked more like something that had been run over than a woodland masterpiece.  My husband reassured me that once we fluffed out the branches, this would be a great looking tree.  I wasn't sure if he was trying to convince me or himself, but I breathed a heavy sigh, and we went about the business of unfurling the branches.

The tree had what seemed like 50 or so limbs, each of which had close to the same amount of iindividual, finger like branches.  Each of those branches had to be bent open.  We had started on the process of opening up the branches at about 11:00 am.  When dinner time rolled around and we were still unfolding, sustaining bleeding cuts and scratches up and down our arms, we wondered whether we had made a tremendous and costly mistake. 

Walking away from the tree to eat dinner gave us time to step back and think about our approach to the tree and when we returned to it, our zoomed out view provided us with a glimpse of what this tree could be.  The side of the tree that we had been focusing on was beautiful, lush and looked surprisingly real.   Over the next day and a half, we finished opening the branches, until what stood before us was an impressively full and natural looking tree.  We on the other hand, were less than impressive looking.   Our fingers, arms and legs were scratched, bleeding and bandaged. 

In the days that followed,we decorated the tree with countless strings of lights, wrapping them from deep witthin the core of the tree, out to the surface branches.  Then came bin after bin after bin of ornaments and every time we thought we were done, we would see bare areas that needed to be filled in.   By the time we had finally completed the decoration of the tree, a solid week had passed.  From that point forward, the long, arduous but ultimately rewarding procedure of assembling and decorating our fabulous fake became part of our Christmas traditions. 

All Christmases except this one, that is.   This year was absolutely crazy for my husband and I, work-wise.   He was travelling all over the place and I was embroiled in the largest and most complicated project of my career.  We did not have the time to dedicate to the complicated assembly and decoration of our fake tree.
 So what did we do instead?  We got a real tree.  The very thing that we had lamented giving up eleven years before.

Guess what?  I hated it.  Hated every last needle, every last branch.  We had purchased it in mid-December, and by the time Christmas rolled around, it was crispy, crunchy, dry and sad.  Which, in a way, represented the overall vibe of Christmas 2010.   This was a holiday season where we were too busy to slow down and enjoy all the things that come along with it and it was a year that in many ways, we broke with tradition.  It wasn't necessarily all bad, but it was different.

Another thing that is very different about this year is my New Years Resolution or just the fact that I have one.  I truly despise New Years resolutions. I think that they are just ways to set your self up for failure and self loathing by the time March rolls around.  Because of this and the fact that I believe that you should work on yourself throughout the year, not just at the end of it, I have never made one. . .until this year.   In 2011, I vow to go back to my artificial tree and to do my level best to avoid assignment to projects coming due in December. The sights and smells and tastes of  Christmas are meant to be savored.  I'll be damned if I choke down another fast-food style Christmas next year. . . or have another real tree.

11 Your comments, banter and witty repartee:

blueviolet said...

After what you said about the real tree, I'm thinking this will be one New Year's resolution you stick with!

~ Lyndsay The Kitchen Witch said...

I related to every single word of this - and loved knowing the PB and I aren't the only demented elves running around :-)

The Restaurant Manager said...

I'm in total agreement with you regarding the fast-food style Christmas. You comment about the tastes of Christmas are meant to be savored is so true!!

Lin said...

I have both--real and a fake. There are pros and cons of each. This year, our real tree was stunning and I couldn't stop looking at it.

It takes real effort to slow down and enjoy the holidays. I book events for the weekends in December that actually force us to sit and relax--the ballet, concerts, etc. Otherwise, we just run ourselves ragged.

The Empress said...

Amen.

Aaaaaa----aa-men.

Amen.
Amen.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-men.

Amy said...

I can't believe the fake tree is actually easier to deal with than the real one!

We have this family from North Carolina that sells their trees in Louisiana every year. They send out a letter each year...I swear they're like *MY* family at this point. Every year, we get one of their trees on Thanksgiving night, and it stays fresh, smelling good, and beautiful up until Christmas. BEST.TREES.EVER.

Linda Medrano said...

I have one "artsy" tree. It's pretty and we can put it on a table in front of the window in the parlor. It can be put away as is every year as it is only about 3 feet tall. I do like real trees because of the smell, but hate the mess. We get a small tree that's alive, and plant it in the yard after Christmas. Best of all worlds for us! My daughter has a gorgeous fake tree that she and her family love. It is pretty and looks real. I just like the smell of the real ones! But not the pine needles! Next year, wear gloves and long sleeves while you are resurrecting that baby!

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peewee said...

My mom has a bunch of gorgeous fake trees that she keeps decorated and they're on a wheelie platform so after Thanksgiving she wheels them in, uncovers them and voila! insta tree! And then in Jan wheels them right back out. This cracks me up. So you know, if you have the garage space, get a wheelie thingie. And some saran wrap. :)

Aunt Juicebox said...

I used to get real trees when my daughter was little, it was a tradition, that I would take her out, let her pick whatever tree she wanted and stand back as the tree guy tried to fit it into my Geo Metro...We eventually converted to a fake tree just because we could get a much smaller room, because our living room is smaller where we live now. I don't miss the pine needles that end up everywhere, but I do miss the tradition.

linlah said...

I don't make resolutions either but I hope you keep yours.

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