Christmas Tree or No? Plastic or Real? Another Christmas, More Choices.

christmastree.jpgWe hadn’t finished eating leftover turkey from Thanksgiving when Sally began decorating our new apartment for Christmas. She enjoys the season, and every year right after Thanksgiving, the decorations come out again.

Over coffee this morning, we were discussing whether to have a Christmas tree this year. We haven’t had one since our marriage, deciding instead on Sally’s ability to decorate with style and grace. During our talk, we did discuss the difference between natural and plastic, and really didn’t decide on which we’d choose if we were going to have a tree in the first place.

It’s a wonderful time of the year, and this will be my 76th Christmas. I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years, and have had some beautiful Christmas trees, some really pathetic ones, and quite a few years with none. What I remember most about Christmas trees, besides the wonderful aroma of a fresh-cut tree, is the first time I saw an artificial one.

Some tree. It was a stick with holes in it, and a bunch of “limbs” covered with plastic needles that you put together and then placed in a stand to look like a real tree. Well, almost. It took a lot of tinsel, angel hair, ornamental balls and an extra string of lights to even begin looking like the real thing.

Most everyone I knew was appalled — who could possibly call it “Christmas” without a real tree? Talk about snobbery! Plastic became more popular though, and as the years rolled on they began looking better and better, but, still plastic. Oh, and I forgot the silver aluminum trees that were introduced in the 60’s. Then came the realization that some families just can’t afford a real tree every year, and suddenly artificial made a lot of sense. Besides, there’s the convenience of not having to vacuum all the needles and dispose of the tree. Just disassemble and store in the closet until next year.

Out of curiosity, I decided to stop at one of those Christmas tree stands operated by a non-profit organization, and price a tree, just for the heck of it. My God, they’re $50 and up. Plastic suddenly looked a little better, although artifical can be very expensive too.

Then we discussed the merits of having a natural or plastic tree when it came to considerations of health. The natural tree won hands down, as long as you don’t let it dry out and catch fire. Artifical trees catch, and retain dust, and if you keep them for years, that’s a lot of dust released everytime they’re used. When we’re finished with them, where do they go? Probably to the local landfill to while away the long years before finally breaking down.

If we chose a natural tree, is it environmentally cool to cut down trees for the sake of a few weeks or days of decoration? We all know that trees help clean the air and provide habitat for wildlife, but are we losing large forest areas? Absolutely not, say growers. Most trees come from Christmas-tree farms, and once harvested, new trees are planted and the cycle begins all over again.

So what are you having this year, plastic or natural? We’ll be treeless, but warm, snug and very happy in our home above beautiful downtown Tucson.

Whatever the case, Sally and Max Lindberg wish you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

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