Oh Christmas Tree...

I've seen a lot of blog discussion this year on Christmas Trees, real or fake. Ironically, I've asked myself that question several times in the last few years and I think I may have to consider it more closely in the future depending on what my asthma does. But lets start at the beginning... because my parents were quirky about their yearly holiday symbol. I come by it honestly!

My earliest memories of trees when we lived in remote Alaska, was my dad coming through the door with whatever lonesome pine that had been unlucky enough to get in the way of his ax. Often times, this tree would be deformed... limbless on one side, permanently askew... whatever. Dad would throw it in the stand and we'd decorate it. I never quite made peace with the disparity between our trees and the ones in the holiday movies my mom loved.

My issues with Christmas trees were further complicated when my mom bought an artificial tree even through we lived (at that time) in the middle of Alaska on a mountain (plenty of trees around). Additionally, she wasn't the least bit inclined to put it together so at the age of 9, I became controlling the tree assembler. Can I just say.... I hated that tree? I hated it's color coded, 12 gauge wire branches and it's non color coded hideously green center pole. I longed for a real tree that smelled of ferns and verdant forest. Unfortunately, we kept the tree until I moved out. Each year, I contemplated taking it outside and burning it, but given it's metal and plastic make up, it probably would have just sat and smoldered!

Fast forward to my marriage to TOG. Our first Christmas together, we were so poor and unprepared, we had no ornaments. We bought a very inexpensive tree and hung fishing lures on the branches since they were bright and shiny and already had hooks. Within days, someone broke into the house and stole the TV and Stereo and knocked the tree over getting to the presents. The lures stuck in the carpet and it took all night to get the lures cut out and the tree back up. It was a very inauspicious beginning to wedded bliss and happy holidays.

During this same time frame, despite his proximity to the big city and *cough* tree lots, my father took to cutting down the holiday tree from freeway meridians on his way home on night shift. For the record, this represents the low spot in his Christmas tree harvesting techniques. To this day, my father maintains that he was doing the state a favor by removing diseased trees (in the dark of night). In his defense, (what little as can be mustered) the trees looked like crap, long term victims of exhuast exposure. My step siblings and I hounded him mercilessly until he gave up this disreputable technique and started loitering around tree lots looking for trees they were going to put in the chipper anyway.

Peace reigned for several years and then the tree issue morphed because TOG (The Old Goat) grew weary of my half assed cobbled together tree decor. After the fishing lure disaster, we'd inherited all the ugly crappy gently aged ornaments my in-laws didn't want, and used them for years. So over the course of the next few years, I started ditching all the old chipped and cracked ornaments and replacing them with what TOG now calls "the vision". I've been collecting ornaments and decorations for a little over 10 years now and in my eye, the vision is starting to look really good. My family says I'm a little psychotic obsessive about the tree, but I'm working on managing this.

The routine usually goes something like this:

TOG drives everyone to the tree lot(s).

Sometimes by the time he has parked, I've made a quick sweep of the premises and determined there isn't a suitable tree and we need to move on. He’s learned to be okay with that.

When I find a tree that is acceptable, TOG attempts to make a stand about the tree being too big/full/sappy/tall. We're about 50/50 in this discussion.

Once the tree is home we discuss how much of it needs to be cut off to get in the door/put it in the stand/ get the flippin' angel on top. TOG traditionally wants to lop off 6 inches (it seems). My position is to retain as much tree as possible since we paid too so much to begin with. TOG always wins this one.

Once the tree is up, TOG usually slaughters trims the top despite my objections. After a brief struggle for control of the pruners, I let him do his worst. Then my daughters and I start decorating. I've reached the point where I just unpack and hand out the ornaments. And for the most part, I don't move them when they're on the tree (much).

Last year, I practiced letting go. I let TOG pick the tree. Even though it wasn’t quite right it was close enough. He cut off way too much when we got home (no surprise there). We got it in the stand and my daughter and I got the lights on. TOG was coaching us (an anomaly) and then as we were about to hang ornaments, we noted that our aging stand was leaking… a lot. Towels were rushed in and we got the mop up done then ran to the hardware store for a new stand. I was thrilled at how easily we got the tree from one stand to the other. Of course, the tree skirt no longer fit and the tree was crooked (leaning) but this is about letting go, right?

In the past few years, challenges with the real trees have included 2 that had something sprayed on them that caused my asthma to go bonkers and one year the tree broke out in worms or critters of some sort... I think it had internal cocoons that were triggered by the "springtime warmth" of our living room! Fortunately it waited until the day after Christmas to "come to life"! But despite these quirks, I'm still fond of the real tree. And until my asthma totally pulls the plug on living with a woodland entity in the house, I'm on board. I know fake trees have improved since my death match with our 60's artificial, but frankly, I'd rather enjoy the real thing for as long as possible.

So... real or fake? Asthmagirl wants to know!

Blurry pics of last year's tree...