It’s the great Christmas debate.
I’m not talking about your opinion of those newsy Christmas letters (for the record, I like getting them). And I’m also not talking about whether to open presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Or even whether or not to have a nativity scene on the town square.
Nope, I’m talking about the tree.
Once when my kids were very small, we drove to a Christmas tree farm and chose a real, living Christmas tree to bring home. It was a fun family outing, but that year is the only time in 26 years of marriage that I can remember buying a real tree.
We’re just artificial tree people.
Both real and artificial trees have their advantages. In thinking about it, this is how it breaks down for me:
Initially, artificial trees are more expensive than live ones, but multiply that real tree purchase price over the number of years you have your artificial tree and the artificial tree wins.
I find owning an artificial tree simpler. I don’t have to find the time each year to go pick out a live one (although I realize this can be an enjoyable tradition) and I don’t have to worry that the tree will be too large or too small or too lopsided or won’t fit in the tree stand, etc.
I may have taken this simplicity to the extreme. In my old house, where we had more storage, I even went so far as to remove the ornaments and store the tree fully assembled with the lights still on it. Because I’ll admit that assembling trees is a drag. If I had the space, I’d still do that.
A real trees that is allowed to dry out pose a fire risk. No such risk exists for an artificial tree.
Writing this reminds me of a routine by the comedian Gallagher, who describes Christmas this way: we cut down trees and dry them out, cover them with cheap wiring, place tissue paper underneath, and then invite our friends over to get drunk and light candles. Ha!
No storage required
Artificial Christmas trees take up quite a bit of space to store. Live trees live in the ground on someone else’s property until you’re ready to go claim them each year and then dispose of them when you’re done.
I’m not talking about the color, but the environmental factor. Normally, cutting down trees isn’t a particularly green thing to do, but since many live Christmas trees are planted on Christmas tree farms for just this purpose, I find them to be more environmentally friendly than the manufacture and disposal of artificial trees
I almost always prefer something real to something artificial. (See: operation living houseplant) And there is no denying that there is something special and charming about a real, live Christmas tree. If I ever do make the switch to a live tree, it will be the authenticity factor that draws me in.
I know that most people have opinions about this so weigh in: are you on team real Christmas tree or team artificial?