Christmas isn’t Christmas without a real tree

December 20, 2010

One of the findings of the MP&F 2010 Holiday survey that has generated much water cooler conversation is the fact that 70 percent of Tennesseans said they have an artificial Christmas tree vs. a real tree.

I find this especially surprising because my family makes it a point each year to haul ourselves out to Santa’s Trees, usually the first Saturday in December, to buy a beautiful and fragrant Frazier fir – along with some wreaths and garland – take it home and decorate it. I think the survey result surprises me because I’m always impressed with how many people are doing the same thing I am, so my assumption has always been that real-tree-buyers made up at least half the population, not less than a third.

I can’t imagine Christmas without the real-tree experience.

First you have the battle over which tree to get. My lovely wife is convinced that a Christmas tree is not worth buying if it doesn’t scrape the ceiling when you stand it upright. I, on the other hand, like a tree with a good six-inch margin from the ceiling, so there’s room for the angel. It’s hard to know how close a tree will come to the ceiling when you’re standing out on a Christmas tree lot, usually freezing, with three kids offering unsolicited advice. But you get through it. You pick a tree and help the tree men load it on top of the car. You throw the wreaths in the car and head home. There is no better smell than the inside of a car carrying fresh Christmas greenery.

Probably the hardest part – because of the impatience of the kids – is the process of getting the tree in the house, with the mandatory furniture rearranging and floor prep, finding the lights and ornaments from last year, getting them unpacked and ready, then stringing the lights and praying that no fuses blow. Nothing is more deflating than a string of Christmas lights that go suddenly dark with that little, muted ‘pop.’

When the lights are strung, the ornaments can go on. What joy. Favorite ornaments are selected and then dismissed for other, more sentimentally important ones – “I got this one from Brooksie when I was three!” Music is key. We decorated our tree this year to the dulcet holiday stylings of John Denver and the Muppets – another sentimental favorite.

Watering the tree, rehanging fallen ornaments and tinsel (I’m a big tinsel fan), checking for burned-out lights, wrapping presents so you can put them under the tree – all part of the tradition.

And then when Christmas is over, and all of the decorations and ornaments come down, hauling the tree down to the recycling drop off spot is my idea of Christmas closure. Until next year.

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