Monday, December 22, 2008

Oh How I Love the Scent of Pine, Or Why I'm A Tree Bigot

My husband calls me a tree bigot. In fact, he used these exact words in reference to me on Sunday. At church. From the pulpit. The pulpit I tell you. When I told him I should blog about my Christmas tree opinions he replied with, "You should."

Me: I should as in should should or I should as in should shouldn't.
Troy: Should as in should should as long as you carefully choose your words. I wouldn't want you to lose any of your six loyal readers.

First, it should be noted that Troy and I have conversations like this all the time. Conversations that wouldn't make sense to anyone but us, really. I have drawn the conclusion that these past six years have been damaging to our ability to communicate with the rest of the world but, perhaps, have strengthened our marriage as we have developed a language seemingly all our own. Additionally, should begins to look horribly misspelled when you type it 72,000 times.

Anyway, back to the fact that I'm a total dogmatist when it comes to Christmas trees. I love myself a real, live, slaughtered on the farm, Christmas tree. I detest synthetic trees. But let me tell you why. When I was a kid the only fake trees I ever saw were ridiculously hideous. They were horrendously lopsided, "pine needles" (and I use that term loosely) were matted together, and the branches started three feet from the ground. My friend had one such tree. Her home was always impeccably decorated. Garland rode the banister in gorgeous loops, Christmas tunes filled the rooms from the first of December into the beginning of January, and the reds and greens were splattered everywhere in festive harmony. It was a snapshot of Christmas as it should be--except the hideous, misplaced, plastic tree. And hers wasn't the only one I'd been subjected to. Fake trees, in my opinion, were a Christmas abomination.

Now. Well, now they make gorgeous "Pre-lit Christmas Trees" and I myself have even admired some of them as I walk through stores. I have even (gasp!) wondered about purchasing such a tree. It is, after all, an option. An option, that is, if Garrett developed severe allergies and it was determined that he would die of anaphylactic shock if we brought a real tree into the house. Forget about it if I were put in the same predicament. I'd buy a surgical mask and take my chances. Or I'd fashion an igloo in my backyard and allow my family the joy of having a real Christmas tree.

I do understand that some people have to have a fake tree. I get it. I really do. I'd rather you have a fake tree than suffer from exploding sinuses all December long. I'd rather you have a fake tree than a cat who climbs your real one. Although, honestly, I've never understood this reasoning. If you have an animal who plays in a real tree, won't he play in a fake tree as well? And, of course, I have other exceptions to my own bigoted rule. College students, for example, ought to have a small fake tree adorning their dorm room and not deal with the possibility that sap will stain the carpet thus explaining the strange cleaning bill they have to pay before being allowed to walk with their graduating class. The elderly are not expected to get on their hands and knees to clean up pine needles and constantly water a real tree. Or, say, people who live on yachts. They should maybe get a break too.

But a real tree. That's where it's at. And the number one reason for such a conclusion is...the smell. Troy wondered, from the pulpit, if I would be alright with a fake tree as long as he hung pine scented air freshner from it. Yes dear, that would make it exactly the same. I love the way my house smells when we have a pine tree residing in it. It is the only thing that smells exactly like Christmas and, well, Lake Tahoe which I also happen to love. And I love the way that you have to hide the holes and show the best side, much like we try to do with our own selves. I mean, come on, a real tree is like, I don't know, a metaphor for life. I love that you don't have to store them! I love figuring out which ornaments will weigh down which branches for optimum Christmas tree perfection. I love hiding Ms. Piggy on the back and then praying I remember to take her off so that she doesn't get shipped to the recycling plant. I love watering it and hoping beyond hope that it doesn't dry out too much before Christmas.

And I love watching the lights twinkle when the rest of the room is dark. This year, Garrett has been amazingly good with our tree. There is one ornament that he is obsessed with touching. Humorously, it is a Chargers bulb so I hesitate to get on him too much--I'm too busy trying to make a fan out of him. Otherwise, he hasn't tried to climb it, pull ornaments off, or yank needles from branches. He's been, kind of, in awe of it I think.

Lately he has started offering "I love yous" unprompted. It's pretty much the most adorable thing in the history of the world (ever!). He hears us respond to each other with, "I love you, too." So, naturally, that's how he says it. Even when he's not prompted with "I love you" first. As we sat together and watched the twinkly lights of our tree, our conversation went something like this.

Me: Garrett, Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Jon and Aunt Heather are going to come and visit us after Santa comes.
Garrett: Ho Ho Ho!
Me: Yep. Santa will come on Christmas Eve. He's really fun but what's the real meaning of Christmas?
Garrett: Baby Jesus.
Me: That's right.

Then we sat quietly for a few moments and suddenly Garrett turned his attention away from the tree, grabbed my face between his two chubby little hands and stared deep into my eyes. "I love you too, Mommy."

I felt my heart surge just a tiny bit and I answered back, "And I love you, Garrett." Then we turned our attention back to our real, live tree. It's branches don't wait for three feet to start and it's needles aren't bent and misshapen from eleven months in the attic. It smells like pine and magic and Christmas memories being formed, anew.


  1. we chose to get a fake tree this year after last year having a real one inducing sneezing, itching, and overall misery for Nicholas. I myself always grew up with a real tree and was very disappointed when I came to the realization we would need to get a fake one. I too always thought they looked cheesy and fake.

    With those things in mind I wanted a pretty one and one that looked realish.

    We got one day after thanksgiving for 1/8th regular price and I am pleased to say it looks AWESOME. It is prelit, which is good because I only own 2 strings of lights. Also, it is big enough (7.5 feet) and the branches can be easily arranged. I bought some pine tree spray which smells really good, but is really strong so we use it sparingly. I have been asked by 3 people if it is real or fake, which seems funny to me cause there is a metal pole in the center. lol. but i guess it looks good enough!

    I love love love the scent of pine! But Nick's allergies and not to mention the extreme costs of real trees are what led us to our choice!

  2. No excuses with allergies. If a kid has an allergy to pine trees, expose them to pine trees. Its kind of like peanut butter. I knew ONE kid growing up allergic to peanuts. Now every kid is. Make 'em eat a granola bar every once in awhile, and it will be all good. Shoot, people, its all about the real tree. Fake trees are only for the geriatric, and, apparently, the yacht-dweller.
    *For anyone who has a child severely allergic to anything, I mean no disrespect. If you have not figured it out yet, this commenter is rarely serious in life.*

  3. I think you are letting those yacht dwellers off too easily...they should have a real one too.

  4. Definatly, yacht dwellers must go ashore and get the little 'challenged' trees, they will fit perfectly.

    And can I say, that Jay and I are VERY aware that we have ourselves a weird time. We have conversations that would NOT make sense to anyone else and would probably completely embarrass ourselves. I give you permission, go forth and be a goof with your husband. :o)

  5. I'm amid those with allergies to Christmas... er pine trees. I've never known anything different from a fake tree - but they make them quite wonderful now - our latest one looks like a real tree! Maybe I'll write a response blog on the subject with pictures. haha.

  6. We've been cutting our own Christmas tree on our property for over 30 years. True, they are not traditional looking "Christmas" trees, but we have grown to love them. I'm not sure if it's because they grow up in the high desert, or because we cut them Thanksgiving weekend, but we don't even water them and they never lose any needles. Fresh as fresh can be. J