By: Chrysa Smith

IMG_0183Have you gone out with hack saw in hand and cut down an Evergreen tree? Have you hauled it into your home, scratching up the walls, dropping needles that you’ll not find until spring? Have you untangled the strings of lights, hooked all the balls and hung them perfectly on the dry branches?  Ah, Merry Christmas.

It’s kinda weird that we bring a tree into our homes to celebrate a religious birthday. But then again, we celebrate lots of things with flowers cut from fields and plants to ‘festive up’ our tablescapes. So why not follow in the German tradition of upsizing it for the most celebrated birthday of all?

But I have taken one degree of separation from that. I’m one of those fake tree people. And it clearly takes a second place to a real one. Now, I don’t miss it. And I’d have to be talked into a real live one, but people’s reactions are sympathetic. Just the other day, a woman was telling me about her trek into the fields to cut down the family tree, and the celebratory atmosphere following it. When she asked me about ours, well, I sheepishly said that I have a ‘faux’ tree. ‘Oh’, she said sadly, as if I told her that I was headed for a colonoscopy. Real tree people just don’t get it. They look sympathetically on those of us who’ve ‘sold out.’ We’ve bought into the mass-produced, retail commercialism of the season. And worse yet, we might be one of those whose tree is flocked with ‘faux’ snow, or even worse again, sprayed a full cover of white or silver.

But I defend my trees. Yes, I have two. One is a full size, full shape, very live looking version of the real thing. And the other–well, as Mary Fran said when seeing it, is ‘Charlie Brown’ like. Well, in reality, it’s a half-tree, purchased from a wholesaler that sells holiday displays to department stores. It takes up very little space, very few decorations and fits so well into any possible corner.  Feeling especially energetic this year, I put up both. The full version is in the family room, next to the fireplace (something else you really don’t want to do with a live one). It looks like a picture from a Ray Coniff album (remember him?) It’s pictured above. I’ve decked it out this year with only sparkling ornaments, ribbon and these cool floral picks that look like something from the Mummer’s parade (for Philadelphians) or for those elsewhere, maybe a Mardi Gras parade.  Each year, I change it up. And for this year’s half-tree, since it’s in my breakfast room, which is a glass room that looks out into the yard, I did a natural theme, with neutrals and yes, fake snow and bright lights. It’s nice to have something Christmasy in eye’s sight of my kitchen.

So yes, I’ll keep my fake trees, which I put up early and savor for weeks. I’ll shake up their location and their decorations, and keep all of my needles on the branches where they belong. And best of all, I’ll admire their beauty in the evening, when all aglow, it really doesn’t matter whether they’re real or fake. They’re just beautiful reminders of a quite beautiful season.

‘Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree,  Of All the Trees, Most Lovely.’ Indeed!