Mary Oves
Published: Saturday, December 11, 2010
Mary Oves
Fake trees and the real Christmas spirit

As I sit here drinking my morning coffee, I wonder at the magic of these holidays. I'm staring at our artificial tree - we've never had one before. But circumstances necessitated it.

I like it. It's strong, and sturdy. It has dignity and valor. Sure, it gets laughed at by other trees. And it doesn't smell good. But maybe it has the last laugh. It doesn't shed its needles, or get left out by the curbside. It doesn't get forgotten and ridiculed every next year, as people say, "No, no, not that one, let's get one better than last year's."

Can the cutting down of Christmas trees every year be considered violent? They're planted, and groomed, and loved. Then picked, ripped out of the ground, and stood upright in strangers' living rooms. Then thrown out with the apple cores and matted newspapers. All for our vanity. They're like the one night stand of the forest.

But the artificial tree? Now THAT'S a commitment. It must be chosen carefully, because it will be part of the family for years to come. The choice comes with so many decisions. Colored lights or white? Pine cones or berries or plain? Tall, squat, skinny, fat? Sounds like a Starbucks order. "Colored, berries, skinny balsam, please, with an extra shot?"

My kids like their tree. But they missed the Christmas tree farm we usually visit. They missed seeing Samantha, the golden retriever who prances around the farm. They missed the hot chocolate from the grumpy man in the office. They missed letting their dog off the lead to run, and vowing that the one he peed on would be the one. They missed the family outing, the lunch after, and bringing it into the house to ooh and aah at it.

I didn't miss any of that. What has happened to me? I have become a grownup! I don't want that mess. I like clean, neat and odor free. I like not having to water it - it's one less living thing in my house making demands on me. I like that I don't have to worry about it catching on fire. And I like that this artificial tree will not droop, screaming at me for my neglect and inattention.

We watched "The Polar Express" last night, and I thought about the end. The adults are unable to hear the bells anymore. Christmas has lost its magic for them.

But that's not me. I still thrill at Christmas carols, and love to walk my dog around the neighborhood to look at lights. The Heat Miser and Cold Miser still crack me up, and when I wake up on Christmas morning, I get a jolt of excitement when I see the empty cookie plate, and drained milk glass. "He was here, he was here!" I yell to my boys.

The reindeer hooves are easy to see on the lawn, and the reindeer food we set out is gone. Logs are moved out of the way from when Santa had to fall into the fireplace.

So I will continue enjoying Christmas magic. I'm just going to do it while looking at a fake tree.

That's not bad, right?


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