Boy, am I glad I didn’t lose my head and buy a fake Christmas tree this year.
For the first time in my life, I actually contemplated it.
Just thinking about my annual wrangle with Christmas tree lights was giving me a slight headache.
And then, while channel surfing, I saw these people selling artificial trees.
Beautiful, perfectly coiffed trees with blue lights, ornaments and ribbons, trees so elegant they looked like they belonged in a Saks Fifth Avenue storefront window. There were traditional-looking trees all decked out in green and red lights, angelic trees with white silk garlands, and a tree all covered with red bobbles.
Normally, I don’t linger on these silly shopping channels except to study how the salespeople manage to convince viewers to buy things they likely do not need or want.
But those Christmas trees. I became intrigued by the idea that they come with lights already attached.
All you have to do is assemble the tree in three pieces, which takes about a minute, and then plug it into a socket. Voila! The lights come on!
Whoever invented the pre-lit tree was brilliant, I thought.
You mean, I would no longer have to wrap those nasty lights around the trunk of the tree and struggle to maneuver them through the outer branches, swearing and scratching my hands at every turn? Or suffer the indignity of having to start all over again once I plug them into a socket, only to discover half of them don’t work?
I was beginning to warm to the concept.
How easy it would be, I thought, to plop those three tree pieces together, skip the light assembly and move on to the fun part of decorating.
Our friends, Kit and George, have an artificial tree that looks very real and is tall, thick and lovely. It folds up in just a few minutes and fits into a small box they tuck away in storage after Christmas every year.
“We’ve saved a lot of money over the years from not buying real trees,” George said at dinner the other night.
The idea of avoiding the frustration of putting lights on a real tree, watering it and constantly vacuuming up piles of fir needles was becoming increasingly attractive.
The next day, I continued to explore the artificial tree route.
“Would you ever have a fake Christmas tree?” I asked our friend, Dave, who was visiting and whose opinion I value greatly.
“Nope,” was his loud and emphatic, monosyllabic response.
I chewed the tree idea over for a few more hours.
I considered all the people we know who, when they got older and wanted to avoid the hassle of getting a tree, bought a tiny one or switched to artificial.
I also recalled a magazine article I read a couple of years ago that touted the merits of real, versus artificial trees. Fake trees fill up landfills and are bad for the environment, it said; real ones can be recycled and are more eco-friendly.
I pondered, deliberated, scrutinized.
And then I informed my husband, who would be perfectly happy to go the artificial route, that we were going out to buy a tree.
We parked the car at our favorite market, stepped out into the cold and forged ahead.
The minute we waltzed into the stand of trees, I knew right away I had made the right choice.
The old, familiar aroma of fir wafted through the air, gushing straight from the trees to my nostrils and permeating my whole being with the scent and sense of Christmas.
The confirmation was instant, reassuring and grounding.
Did I really consider, for even for a minute, purchasing an artificial tree?
What was I thinking?
Christmas would never be the same without a real one, I knew.
The day may come when I decide to defect, but it’s not going to be this year.
Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 25 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.