Fake or Real and Whether it Matters to the Kids

Natural or fake, the debate is once again stuck here. It’s not about looks, it’s about usability. The fake ones are hard and plastic-looking, while the natural ones get droopy sooner than one would like. My husband is lobbying for fake, while I’m inclined to stay natural, at least for a few more years, for the kids. What? I’m talking about Christmas trees.

We have two Christmas trees, a fake one in our living room, and a huge live one in the family room. I have fond memories of going with my dad each Thanksgiving weekend to cut down our Christmas tree at a tree farm, then throwing it on the top of our VW Van before heading home and wrestling it upright into a tree stand. I want my kids to have the same memories (minus the cursing at the tree stand, so we spent extra on a nicer model), which means we head out to a local tree farm on Thanksgiving weekend, then throw the tree on our SUV and head home for decorating. It’s a fun memory, but while it’s happening, it’s kind of a pain in the ass.

It’s muddy, the trees are fairly picked over, the kids fight, the kids fight over holding the saw, the kids fight with the saw, they refuse to pose for an annual photo in front of the tree before it gets cut down, sometimes it rains, and like sand during the summer time, the pine needles end up everywhere. It also costs a decent chunk of money. All of this could be avoided by going with an artificial tree.

After the one time expenditure, our artificial tree has been a breeze. It goes up quickly, it’s pre-lit, and it doesn’t require any watering or clean up. However, even though it’s a nice tree bought from a fancy Christmas shop, it’s still fake. The real tree looks more…real. They smell real too, while the fake tree doesn’t smell at all. I’m willing to give up on the looks and the pine smell because I’m tired of the hassle, but that’s when the kids weighed into the debate. They squealed with anticipation over the tree farm visit. They relished their time with the saw, helping to cut down the tree. They loved running through the rows of trees. And they especially loved the candy canes handed out by the farm workers as we purchased our tree.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized why, as a child, we always cut down our tree on Thanksgiving weekend: my mom was busy with her annual craft fair. This meant she wasn’t there for any of it: the mud, the fighting over the saw, the heaving the tree onto the van. By the time she came home at the end of the day, the tree was up. I would love to have a live tree magically appear in our house, but my husband doesn’t recall cutting down a Christmas tree as a child, which means as soon as I bow out of the tradition, it’s over.

We’ve decided to continue cutting down the tree for two more years, then we’ll reevaluate the pros and cons of a live tree. Despite all the pros on the side of fake, as long as kids are excited about trekking to the tree farm, we’ll likely continue. After a few years, once our four year old is old enough to hold onto the memories of the tree farm, I’m going to try to bribe them toward a fake tree by handing out candy canes in our family room. The tree farm may have saws, but that’s no match for sugar.

  1. December 9, 2010
  2. December 13, 2010
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