DEBORAH CROMBIE: Every year we have the same argument in our house. Real tree, or artificial? But it's futile, because I ALWAYS WIN. In my book, it's not Christmas without a REAL tree!
We had the same "discussion" every year in my family when I was growing up. Artificial trees then, of course, were in their stiff-branched infancy. (Did you know the first artificial trees were made by a brush manufacturer?) Aluminum trees had yet to become retro and were just tacky.
It was my mom who was the nay-sayer. When my dad and I set off for the tree-lot, she'd always say, "Well, don't get a big one, then," and we'd always come home with a seven-foot tree. To this day I don't understand why the size made a difference to her--the tree went in the living room, not the den, and was in no one's way--but for some reason, it did. A holdover from the Depression-era frugality of her own childhood perhaps.
She had good enough reason for not wanting the real tree, however, fire-hazards that they were. The tree of my childhood looked just like the tree in A Christmas Story (getting to that later this week!) A horribly prickly Scotch pine, already dropping yellow needles, anchored by a stand made of two crossed sticks. And the lights, of course, were multi-colored C9 bulbs, hot enough to burn your hand when you touched them.
But real trees have come a long way in the decades (!) since. Now we get beautiful Noble firs from the lot down the street--one year they came in from Oregon with snow still on them! They are fresh, and soft, and take up a half-gallon of water a day. Two years ago we switched to LED lights, safer and more energy-efficient. We got the warmest white we could find, and when the light still seemed a little sharp, we filed every single bulb with emery boards. (Now that's dedication. Or maybe insanity...) The rougher surface makes them glow. (That's last year's tree in the photo at the top.)
So why the argument? Well, first, the whole thing is a lot of trouble, I'll admit. And my DH says that fake trees are more environmentally friendly. I say real trees are a viable, renewable crop that creates jobs, puts oxygen into the air, and puts land to use that would otherwise lie fallow.
So who's right? This year I decided to look it up. And you know what? I am.
According to every source I checked, the real tree comes out tops, and I learned lots of things I didn't know about artificial trees. Most are manufactured in China, and the petroleum-based chemicals used in the process are not only damaging to the environment but to the workers who produce them. Some trees contain lead, which can filter out into your home. And artificial trees are the greater fire hazard.
Our city, like many, mulches the real trees after the holidays (it's called "tree-cycling") and that mulch goes to use in city parks, helping to keep the ground moist in our hot, dry Texas summers.
So this year I'm going to enjoy my tree, guilt free. What about you, REDS and readers? If you do a tree, do you go for the GREEN?