Thursday, December 3, 2009
This photo was taken 4 years ago. It must have been my turn to choose the theme because I vaguely remember that everything had to be green, red, or white, - or - had to be a wooden toy or old timey thing.
The title of this post is stolen from the survey posted on Rosey's blog Dung Hoe. Be sure to visit her blog and take the quick vote. The question she poses is simple - real tree or artificial (or neither)?
Because I prefer not to enter treacherous territory by discussing the religious aspect of Christmas or the sustainability/waste aspect of cutting trees, I think I'll just reflect on the simple matter at hand. Real or artificial - as it has pertained to my life.
I grew up with artificial Christmas trees. I don't think I really knew that people cut real trees, (especially since I grew up in a predominantly Jewish area). Each year, my mother would lug the big box from the basement and would have the tree decorated and ready to surprise my sister and I upon coming home from school. When I got older, I remember helping my mother match up the colored base of each branch with the colored hole on the tree "trunk". After this step, we'd bend each branch just so to try to fluff up the tree as much as possible. I guess as a kid, it was just important to have some colorful thing towering over the REAL focus of the season - presents!! Ironically, another artificial thing was the wrapped empty boxes my mom would put under the tree to make it look like we had more presents! Not cool when you think there are 5 presents left and you find out they're just the fake presents to make the tree look nice! Come to think of it, another aspect from my childhood was a little troubling. Santa used to leave cool things in our stockings on Christmas morning (hung on our bedposts) - hello kitty stationary sets, good candy, etc. One year, there were more clementines and fewer goodies. The next year, there was crap in the stocking that my mom must have scavenged the house for - like toys that were ours but we hadn't seen in a long time, Chinese candies that we'd have packed in our lunches, etc. Come on, Santa doesn't give kids Chinese candies! Anyway, fortunately I'm not too scarred by these transgressions made by my mother.
(Photo below: Scott dragging in the tree, the excited screams of kids behind me jumping up and down)
When I moved out of my parents' house, I would always use artificial trees because the thought of cutting down a real tree for my own superficial needs seemed not right. Scott had always made the case for a real tree, as growing up (in Florida of all places!), he always had real trees. The first year we had a REAL tree was when my first child was a toddler. I remember Winter had woken from a nap and a gigantic tree (literally touching the ceiling) was awaiting her as she ran out. There's no way any artificial tree could be fluffed to make it look so full. We probably commented several times a day about how amazing that tree smelled. We constantly obsessed and fussed over that tree. We watered and touched and smelled that tree daily. That year forward, it has become a tradition for my husband to go to his favorite tree guy, bring the biggest and fullest tree home, and for all of us to decorate it together, x-mas music in the background.
It's really a full day affair as each ornament carries a story that must be told every year. Now that our kids are older, we are each taking turns choosing a theme for the year, and we each buy one new "special" ornament a year. There's the pickle ornament that is supposed to be hidden and searched for on x-mas day. We always say, "This year we HAVE to remember to put it in the tree", as we set it on the bookcase waiting to be hidden when kids are not around. Each year, it remains on the bookcase until we're packing everything back up and discover it! There seem to be a million inside jokes and special memories in the gigantic plastic Christmas boxes. All these memories tucked away for 11 months just pour out on tree day each year. It's a joy to revisit each memory each year at this time.
(Photo below: Lyric is 10 months and helping)
(This photo below was taken 4 years ago. Kids taking a break from decorating)
For the first couple of years, I had a problem with the practice of cutting down a tree, hanging balls on it, and throwing it on the curb a few weeks later. Every year, I still feel sad seeing tree upon tree on the curb, dry, on its side, tinsel blowing with the wind.
I do think my family has created lots of traditions that involve having a real Christmas tree. An artificial tree would lack the fragrance that takes you back in an instant. It wouldn't have the sheer number of boughs to hang the dozens of special ornaments. Waiting for dad to bring the box up from the basement wouldn't hold the same sort of anticipatory excitement as waiting for dad to come back from the tree guy - tree tied to the top of the car. The kids literally sit by the window and wait for his car to drive in. I still haven't fully reconciled my unease about chopping down a tree, but I can tell you that the tree that is sacrificed for my family each year is fully worshipped and a foundation for memories new and distant.
Kids in this photo are a year older than in the previous photos. Lyric is walking and talking here and has become fully involved in the decorating!
This is how an almost-2 year old decorates
Found this in the vault along with the others - this is Lyric finding a very clever way to hide herself in the coat rack!