Sunday, December 02, 2007

O Christmas Tree!

Last night, for the second time in our adult life, we bought a "real" Christmas tree. When we first got married and moved to Maryland, we bought a tiny, artificial "Charlie Brown" tree (at Wal-Mart, I think). Our dwelling at the time was a 320-sq.-ft. apartment on the campus of the seminary I was attending. For three years, we listened to our neighbors through the walls, went to sleep staring at our kitchen, and collected no-bake dessert recipes (because all we had for cooking was a two-burner stove, a toaster oven, and a microwave). Once we bought a "real" tree, but generally we traveled for the holidays, so it seemed better just to throw up our little standby. It moved with us to our first off-campus apartment, then the townhouse we shared with a good friend of Julie's, then here to where we are now. Since we're not going anywhere this year, Julie decided to buy a tree; for good measure, we're also going to give away "Chuck." It's the end of an era.

Not that we have much space for a tree now, either. We asked for the smallest type they had on the lot. It's a nice tree, though. It certainly looks better, and it is a bit larger and considerably fuller. The smell is nice, too (though I'm thinking either it's wearing off already, or I'm getting used to it). On the way home, Julie asked me what I thought about "real" Christmas trees. My initial thought was, as long as I don't have to pay for it, I really don't care. (Some time back, Julie put herself on a weekly allowance for things like eating out, extras for the house, and various forms of entertainment; buying a Christmas tree was one such thing.) But the more I think about it, I guess there are some distinct advantages:
  1. You're a lot more likely to buy local when you buy a "real" tree. An artificial one could come from pretty much anywhere (and probably does). I suppose you could truck a "real" tree several hundred miles, but it doesn't seem like there'd be much benefit to doing so. The quality would diminish, the longer it took to get there.
  2. Christmas tree farms seem to be one of the few agricultural operations these days that are still likely to be family-run. They don't take a great deal of maintenance, and although I doubt that you could live off one exclusively, it seems like they can probably be maintained on top of some other job. I'd like to think that we bought our tree directly from the guy who grew it. It certainly looked like a family operation, with help from the kids and a few hired hands to wrap and tie the trees on cars.
  3. Although I keep saying "real" in quotes, because obviously the tree is dead, there really is something different about it from an artificial tree. It may not be a living tree, but it still needs regular watering, to keep it from drying out. As I've been thinking lately about doing some gardening after we move into our new house, I figure this is about my pace to start out--watering a dead stick. It's already green, so don't confuse me with Abba John the Dwarf; but hopefully I can at least keep it from turning brown and shedding all over the living room.
So I guess I am pretty positive about the tree, as long as I still don't have to pay for it :-)

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