Tag Archives: christmas

In Praise of the Artificial (Yes!)

The Forever Tree

2012 update: It’s that time of year again. Time to deck the halls (with boughs of holly or ropes of pine) and get into the spirit of the season.  We had a brief discussion today at work about real vs. artificial trees, and it made me remember this post from last year.  I thought I’d trot it out again.  Enjoy!

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I’m here to sing the praises of artificial Christmas trees.  I haven’t had a live Christmas tree in my house since I was, oh, yea-high to some hopping insect or another.  And really, artificial is the way to go.  In fact, I think the live-tree vendors are participants in one of the greatest hornswoggles there is:  That a live tree is a REAL CHRISTMAS TREE.  Here’s why I think they’re wrong.

1.  False “nostalgia.” Yeah, yeah. We all had real trees growing up. (Or, at least most of us did.) So, therefore, we should still have one. It’s traditional!

But did you ever ask why we had live trees? I think one answer is because in the ’50’s and ’60’s realistic-looking Christmas trees were very expensive (if you could find them among all the silver aluminum trees or the green plastic ones “flocked” with white to simulate snow).  So, we went to the tree lot (or the tree farm), picked a tree — or cut it down — and took it home.  The tree was that was beautiful for a time (until it turned into a tinderbox). Then we took it to the curb.

What a waste of a beautiful, once-living tree.

Alternative: a good artificial one that can be reused or a live tree (yes, one with a nasty  ole root-ball) that can be replanted.

2. Oooh, Isn’t the Smell of a Live Tree Great?  Hate to tell you, folks, but all the live trees I’ve seen up close this Christmas, didn’t, uh, smell. At all.

Some have truly bought into this scent-ual belief; but, really, can a tree tucked away in the corner of your living room scent the entry, the dining room, other rooms?

Do an experiment now — if your live tree is still up, that is: Sniff. Yes, sniff.  How close to the tree do you have to be to smell, really smell, the pine scent?  Oh, you’ve taken the tree down because it’s drying out? Well, try this experiment next year.

3. It’s sad when the tree comes down.  Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to take the tree down the week after Christmas. Yup. (Yes, you really should if your tree is  past the tinderbox phase mentioned above and well on the way to spontaneous combustion from a stray static electricity spark.)

The photo above is of our Christmas tree.  Our artificial Christmas tree. It went up a couple weeks before Christmas and is still up. The best time of day is morning as we sit in the living room drinking our wake-up coffee bathed in the soft glow of the multicolored lights.  No blinking, no music. Just the steady glow of the mini-lights.  [2012 update: Our tree’s been up since the day before Thanksgiving. We’re enjoying the lights right now; the decorations will be put up next week. Yeah, we’re rebels. The marathon decorate-the-tree-in-a-day is definitely NOT us.]

As I sit there sans-contacts or glasses, the lights are blurred.  It reminds me of the song “Nearsighted,” by Rupert Holmes — of The Pina Colada Song.” “…  the day is brighter, softer, lighter when it’s slightly blurred.” [2021 update: Want to hear the whole song?]

The tree will come down, eventually.  Probably sometime in mid-January.  The space will return to its former chair/floor lamp/side table configuration. Very utilitarian. Very standard-issue.  The magic of the Christmas tree will be gone for another year.

But we will have had ours up for more than a month.  All you live-tree aficionados can’t do that.

Don’t you wish you could?

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In Praise of the Artificial (Yes!)

The Forever Tree

I’m here to sing the praises of artificial Christmas trees.  I haven’t had a live Christmas tree in my house since I was, oh, yea-high to some hopping insect or another.  And really, artificial is the way to go.  In fact, I think the live-tree vendors are participants in one of the greatest hornswoggles there is:  That a live tree is a REAL CHRISTMAS TREE.  Here’s why I think they’re wrong.

1.  False “nostalgia.” Yeah, yeah. We all had real trees growing up. (Or, at least most of us did.) So, therefore, we should still have one. It’s traditional!

But did you ever ask why we had live trees? I think one answer is because in the ’50’s and ’60’s realistic-looking Christmas trees were very expensive (if you could find them among all the silver aluminum trees or the green plastic ones “flocked” with white to simulate snow).  So, we went to the tree lot (or the tree farm), picked a tree — or cut it down — and took it home.  The tree was that was beautiful for a time (until it turned into a tinderbox). Then we took it to the curb.

What a waste of a beautiful, once-living tree.

Alternative: a good artificial one that can be reused or a live tree (yes, one with a nasty  ole root-ball) that can be replanted.

2. Oooh, Isn’t the Smell of a Live Tree Great?  Hate to tell you, folks, but all the live trees I’ve seen up close this Christmas, didn’t, uh, smell. At all.

Some have truly bought into this scent-ual belief; but, really, can a tree tucked away in the corner of your living room scent the entry, the dining room, other rooms?

Do an experiment now — if your live tree is still up, that is: Sniff. Yes, sniff.  How close to the tree do you have to be to smell, really smell, the pine scent?  Oh, you’ve taken the tree down because it’s drying out? Well, try this experiment next year.

3. It’s sad when the tree comes down.  Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to take the tree down the week after Christmas. Yup. (Yes, you really should if your tree is  past the tinderbox phase mentioned above and well on the way to spontaneous combustion from a stray static electricity spark.)

The photo above is of our Christmas tree.  Our artificial Christmas tree. It went up a couple weeks before Christmas and is still up. The best time of day is morning as we sit in the living room drinking our wake-up coffee bathed in the soft glow of the multicolored lights.  No blinking, no music. Just the steady glow of the mini-lights.

As I sit there sans-contacts or glasses, the lights are blurred.  It reminds me of the song “Nearsighted,” by Rupert Holmes — of The Pina Colada Song.” “…  the day is brighter, softer, lighter when it’s slightly blurred.”

The tree will come down, eventually.  Probably sometime in mid-January.  The space will return to its former chair/floor lamp/side table configuration. Very utilitarian. Very standard-issue.  The magic of the Christmas tree will be gone for another year.

But we will have had ours up for more than a month.  All you live-tree aficionados can’t do that.

Don’t you wish you could?

Traveling Lighter?

Non-attachment.  The word came to my consciousness sometime on New Years Day. It came unbidden.  It just arose.

It might have had something to do with the need to offload some of my extraneous possessions, to simplify my life and my home, and to do without objects or things that have been part of my life for several years.  Never mind the genesis; the concept is what is important.

To be able to let go of possessions, personal ties, and other longstanding associations is difficult unless you understand that what is being let go is not important.  The fact of letting go is what counts.  Non-attachment is an important teaching of Zen Buddhism. His Holiness The Dalai Lama is quoted as saying:

“Attachment is the origin, the root of suffering; hence it is the cause of suffering.”

Someone took a lawn ornament from our yard between Christmas and New Years Eve.  The ornament, a small wooden Santa that my now-deceased uncle made, was a sentimental piece that made its way to our front yard every year and signaled the beginning of “Christmas decoration season.”  The wooden stake had been replaced twice because of rot; but my husband always fixed it so that it could be placed in the ground each year.

But this year it was stolen.

I had a brief pang of loss, regret, anger.  But then I thought: “It is what it is. I guess we weren’t meant to have that possession any more.”   Does relating this story undermine somewhat my non-attachment to the Santa? When will I stop looking at nearby curbsides while driving to perhaps spy the errant Santa? Have I truly achieved non-attachment.

Do even my final words here defy non-attachment?

I wonder if the “new owners” will get as much enjoyment from this simple wooden ornament as my family did.