It’s one of the biggest controversies of the Christmas season. Real tree vs artificial tree. Everyone has an opinion. And then there are sub-controversies. If you go real, do you cut it down at a tree farm of pick up a pre-cut tree from a road side stand? If you go artificial then do you get the tree pre-lit or add the lights yourself? It’s a lot of decisions to make at such a busy time of year!
I grew up in Wisconsin. Every year my family would go to a local tree farm and cut down a tree together. I have such good memories of it, partly because you can’t beat WI for getting you into the Christmas mood. We would bundle up and head out a few weeks before Christmas to the tree farm. There was always snow on the ground and usually it was snowing as we searched for the perfect tree. My sister and I would run in and out of the trees, laughing, throwing snowballs, and diving into the snow. My parents, with my little brother in tow, would find the perfect tree and then call us over for a picture. We would stand there smiling while big fluffy flakes quietly fell on our heads. It was a Christmas card perfect type of picture. Afterwards we would warm up with hot chocolate and cookies. Such great memories!
We moved a few times, but always cut down a live tree at Christmas. Then, my senior year of high school, we moved to New Jersey. My dad traveled a lot that year and it fell on my mom and us kids to get the tree. We decided to just pick one up from the local road side stand. The owner helped us get it on top of the car, but it was up to us to tie it down. We got the tree secured and were off. As soon as we rounded the first corner the tree slid from the roof to the side of the car. We got out, pushed it back up, and drove the rest of the way home with our arms out the window, holding the tree up and laughing hysterically! That was our families last road side tree.
As all of us kids began to have our own children we continued the annual trek to a tree farm to cut down the Christmas tree. We would all go together; my parents, us kids, and our children. Every year was an adventure. One year we got lost looking for the farm and another year we went to three different tree farms before we found one that wasn’t outrageously expensive. My husband was desperately sick one year and ended up in the ER the day after we cut down our tree. The locations have varied as well. We are not picky and have cut down trees everywhere from people’s backyards to huge farms complete with hay rides and bonfires and stores. One year a friend of ours invited us to cut down our tree at his place. We brought my parents and each got our tree. My parents chose a huge one. As we were getting ready to take the trees home we realized that there was no tree hair net that is typically used to tie up the tree until you get home. The trees went on our car roofs unbound! The ride home from that one was fun with pine branches hanging everywhere.
A few years ago my parents and brother and sister switched to artificial trees. They sited convenience and money and cleanup as the reason they made the switch. They are right. An artificial tree provides all of those things. But still, it’s artificial! It’s just not the same. We, here in my family, are the last hold outs off the family tradition. Sure, I’m tempted to change, but my kids love it. They say it’s one of their favorite family Christmas traditions.
So, each year we continue to trek out a few weeks before Christmas in search of the perfect tree. This year it had snowed earlier in the week so my husband wanted to go over the weekend while there was still some snow. You can see from the picture below how much snow was left (it’s just WI)!
But even without the snow it was everything I remember from growing up. My husband and I chose the tree while our kids ran around playing tag and searching for the perfect “Charlie Brown tree”. We gathered the family together for the annual Christmas tree photo and then my 11-year-old son then cut down the tree. Laughing, we dragged the tree down the hill, loaded it on top of the car and joined all the other cars with trees on top at our favorite restaurant.
I have to admit, around Jan 2 every year I am tempted to switch to an artificial tree. Pine needles are everywhere! But I hold on to the tradition, certain that my children will someday carry on the tradition on to their own kids.
Poll: Real or fake? Which type of Christmas tree do you have?