In Pursuit Of The Perfect Tree
Every Christmas I threaten. But I never follow through.
Let’s just get an artificial tree, I mutter. No more picking needles out of the rug until the Fourth of July. No more driving around town trying to find the perfect specimen. No more trees that die before the 25th.
Sometimes it’s the price of a fresh Christmas tree that causes me to flirt with a plastic one. We once were shamed into paying about 100 bucks for a sad spruce when our church was in the tree extortion business.
Sometimes it’s the weather. You wait all week to stage a magical day of Christmas tree hunting with the family and it rains. By the time the sun’s out there’s nothing left on the lot but malnourished twigs with alopecia.
One year it was the smell. We’d bought a bushy Frasier fir from a local tree lot. Brought it home and set it up.
“It smells funny,” I said.
No one else could detect the weird odor.
By the next morning, however, a communal headache convinced the rest of the family that there really was something rotten in the tree stand.
I called the seller who immediately offered to refund my money.
Turned out the trees had been infested with spiders so the North Carolina grower had gone crazy fogging them with a pesticide. People all around town were getting sick from the toxic Tannenbaums.
Spiders. Try not to think about it.
I know one thing. My grandmother, who had an aluminum tree with a rotating electric color wheel, never had to worry about yuletide arachnids.
Bugs aside, there’s something about an honest, fresh tree - one not soaked in chemicals - that just feels right. Artificial trees are too, well, perfect. I fondly remember one spindly tree from my childhood. My dad cleverly drilled tiny holes in the bare spots and stuck in spare boughs.
“You can’t even tell!” he boasted, admiring his handiwork.
“There’s this wonderful family experience that’s just not parallel to dragging a dusty box out of the attic,” Tim O’Connor, a spokesman for the National Christmas Tree Association told The New York Times.
I don’t know. On a 40-degree day with rain, that dusty box is tempting.
In a story this week, "Real vs. Artificial Christmas Trees: Which Is the Greener Choice?” (answer: who knows) the Times reported that 80 percent of Americans now have artificial trees.
That does it. We’re sticking with the real thing this year.
Oh look. Rain in the forecast this weekend.