Christmas Tree Tradition: to faux or not to faux?
Spending a winter day at the Christmas tree farm is a revered holiday tradition for many families. Yet each year, more and more households abandon the live tree tradition and opt for an artificial Christmas tree.
Unlike the fake trees of the past, artificial trees have gotten a modern makeover and look more realistic than ever. It is now possible for families to customize their perfect tree: one that is the right size and looks and feels like a real tree, but requires half the effort and maintenance.
But does convenience outweigh tradition?
Now that December is here, households are forced to make an important holiday decision: Go with a real Christmas tree or choose a fake one?
Artificial Tree: the Perks
Looks Real without the Mess: Unlike the earlier artificial models, many of today’s faux trees easily could pass for the real deal—without the added burden of cleaning up hundreds of fallen pine needles. While real Christmas trees require constant watering and upkeep, fake trees do not run the risk of browning and shedding needles.
Time- and Money-Saver: Artificial trees are reused year after year, allowing people to save money and time. With an already hectic holiday season, families that use artificial trees can skip a trip to the farm and focus their energy on the rest of their Christmas checklists.
Comes Pre-lit: Sometimes stringing the lights around the tree is more of a hassle than chopping down the tree itself. To alleviate this headache, many artificial trees come pre-lit.
Adjusts to Your Living Room: Artificial trees have the advantage of being completely customizable. Is the tree too tall for that corner of the room? Shorten the trunk. Not fluffy enough? You can readjust the branches.
Real Tree: the Perks
Pine Scent and Beautiful Evergreen Color: There’s something about the scent and color of a real Christmas tree that candles and paint cannot replace. “With a real Christmas tree, you get the aroma,” Glenn Brenner, owner of Brenner Tree Farm in East Sparta, said. Although pine needles will turn brown if not properly watered, Brenner reassures families that their tree will preserve its deep green color if purchased near the middle of December and kept hydrated.
Already Cut: Many farms like Brenner’s will cut and veil the tree for you, allowing for easier travel and transportation. “Most people buy the trees that are already cut down by us,” Brenner said. But for families looking to turn their tree hunt into an all-day affair, several tree farms offer the option for hands-on, tree-chopping action. “The kids love it,” Brenner said. “It’s a great opportunity to take some holiday photos.”
It’s Tradition: For those who spent their childhood opening presents, hanging ornaments and sharing Christmas cookies under the lights of a real tree, artificial trees simply cannot replace the ambiance of real ones. “Real trees are what we always had growing up,” Brenner said. “Fake trees just aren’t tradition.”
When is enough, enough? One opinion on Chris Rock and Christmas
I tuned into “Saturday Night Live” on Nov. 1, hoping it would bring the funny—hey, a girl can dream. Chris Rock hosting with Prince as the musical guest? Sold! Alas, the only funny brought was during Chris Rock’s opening monologue: A classic romp by a stand-up known for leaving nothing off the table—9/11, gun control, the Boston Marathon—the topical jokes hit their targets because his assessment of our culture isn’t just funny, it’s true.
There was one thing in his routine that really resonated with me, especially in the midst of composing this Holiday issue of About. At one point, he switches course to make sure that viewers know he’s not actually making fun of 9/11, and in the process, he segues into the holidays: “We are in America, and in America there are no sacred days. ‘Cause we commercialize everything. We’re only five years away from 9/11 sales … ‘Come down to Red Lobster, these shrimp are just $9.11!’ “
Whether you think the joke is in bad taste or hilarious, I bet you can’t help thinking it’s spot on. He continues:
“Look what we did to Christmas. Christmas is Jesus’s birthday… Jesus kept a low profile and we turned his birthday into the most materialistic day of the year. Matter of fact, we have the ‘Jesus Birthday Season,’ a whole season of materialism. And then at the end of the Jesus Birthday Season we have the nerve to have an economist come on TV and tell you how horrible the Jesus Birthday Season was this year.”
If you’re laughing (guilty as charged), think about what you’re laughing at—he’s right, right?
We have readers of all faiths that enjoy About magazine. And this isn’t designed as a debate on religion. But Christmas—or the holiday season as we’ve so artfully come to call it—is, after all, a celebration of Jesus’s birthday. And we’ve turned that into a season of giving, not thanks, not back, but giving gifts. We’re offenders here at the magazine, with a wonderful local gift guide as our cover story. I myself wrote a literal instruction manual to Black Friday shopping last month. You can even learn how to wrap the gifts in this issue. In so far as the gift side of Christmas goes, we’ve got you covered. So my question is this: When is enough, enough? And perhaps better yet, in the chicken and the egg sense of the matter, how did this happen?
Some of you will blame the stores—if they didn’t open so early … if Christmas promotions didn’t assault us earlier and earlier—we wouldn’t be so fixated on unadulterated consumerism. Really? Because the flip side is that if we in our internet age euphoria didn’t come to demand instant access to all things retail, maybe the stores wouldn’t open to appease us. There can’t be shopping without shoppers.
Are we headed, slowly but methodically, toward shoppers trekking out Thanksgiving morning in just a few years, or the day before, or Halloween? There are only so many dollars to be spent for gifts, only so many presents under that tree, what purpose does accelerating the buying season serve? And how did we as a people become so gift-crazed at Christmas?
Regardless, I leave you with one small solution. I love giving and getting gifts as much as the next gal, but this year, in addition, I plan to do better at embracing what the spirit of Christmas really means to me. Whatever your faith, whatever you celebrate, won’t you join me?