Growing up we had a "real" tree. It smelled of pine and left sap residue on your fingers. Once Jonathan and I married, I informed him that we too would be having a "real" tree. This tradition continued through 11 years of marriage, 3 children, and a cat.
This year I nearly had a panic attack thinking about getting a "real" tree. I couldn't bear to think about trudging through the cold to pick out a tree that no one will unanimously agree on, which inevitably, in a family of all girls, leads to tears and personal effrontery. Upon getting the tree home we'll de-tangle the yardage of hopefully-working lights and wrestle them onto the boughs while warding off eager fingers wielding fragile ornaments--one of which, at least, will be broken in the interim. . . which will lead to more tears and accusations.
Once the lights, garland, ornaments are on, we have the added pleasure of continued maintenance of the tree throughout the Christmas holiday and even a couple days into the New Year. Checking water levels. Sweeping up pine needles. Keeping the cat from drinking the sappy water. Cleaning up cat vomit when he does manage to drink the sappy water. Finding ornaments mysteriously scattered in random places around the house. Readjusting the garland for the 834th time because the cat or my 4-year-old thinks it's fun to pull it and watch the whole tree shudder and hear the little bells on the ornaments tinkle. Ah, a pleasure indeed.
As I write this, I again feel hot all over, sweat breaks out on my brow, my chest starts to constrict, and my heart begins to race. Then I remind myself: It's okay, Anna. You caved.
It seems that many people have quite a strong opinion when it comes to live or artificial trees. As I said, I was chastised and told I "caved to convenience" when I went from "real" to artificial in my choice of tree decor.
But I am unmoved by this rebuke.
I applaud all of you who get "real" trees and survive the holidays with sanity intact. But the fact that this year, for the first time since our cat and children appeared on the scene, I arrived home from work with the tree assembled, the lights aglow on the branches (Oh, yes, it's pre-lit, baby!), and my children and husband all smiling and in festive spirits. We had a delightful, tear-free evening of Christmas music and tree decoration, documented with photos rather than emotional scars. If an artificial tree is what it takes for our family to enjoy a moment that is meant to be enjoyed, then I'll take artificial any day.
You can judge me. That's a constitutional right somewhere, I'm sure. But I am unabashed in my affection for the artificial.
And now I just discovered that Netflix has an hour-long video of a fire crackling in a fireplace that you can play with or without Christmas music accompaniment. So I've been setting up that fake flame on my iPad whenever I'm sitting down to read a book or to do some writing. I listen to the crackle and pop of the on-screen fire. I read by the glow of my pre-lit tree. And I smile because, at least where I'm concerned, there's a little bit more peace on earth this Christmas.
Oh, and PS: When I informed my parents that we wouldn't be going with them to purchase a live tree this year, they're response? "Oh good. We've wanted to go artificial for years."
|Look at that sweet girl! I know you can't see it, but she's grinning wildly.|