Friday, December 10, 2010

On a Very Sneezy Christmas

JAN: This is my Christmas tree. Isn't it beautiful? (say yes). I have a thing about Christmas trees, mostly because of my mother. When I was about seven or eight, the evil capitalists of the world introduced artificial Christmas trees, and my mother ran out and bought one. My mother was not normally an early adapter of new technology, but she was extremely frugal and saw this as a way of not having to buy new Christmas tree every year. (She also hated to clean up the pine needles.)

My brothers and I were devastated. We put up a big fuss about the fake Christmas tree. My mother was one tough lady who could easily blow off four whining children.

Did we want presents? she asked.

Of course.

Then shut up.

We did shut up, but I vowed never to have an artificial tree in my own home. So every year, my daughter and I go out and buy a new tree and we all decorate it. It's beautiful isn't it? (Say yes.)

Guess what?

I'm 99 percent sure I'm allergic to it.

Why? Because I left the room sneezing non stop when we put it up Sunday. And when I went back into the living room Monday morning, I started sneezing again. I wheezed all day Monday and Tuesday, sure I was coming down with something, but when I went out to the gym, felt terrific.

I am allergic to pretty much every tree, grass, weed pollen and dander the doctor has in his little test kit, so it makes sense that given enough time I'd develop an allergy to Christmas trees. But it's so beautiful (say yes, oh yes!) and I love when that pine smell fills the house. (Got a kleenex?)

So am I going to surrender to the mounting practicalities and go the artificial Christmas tree route, next year?

No way.

Some things are worth sneezing for.


  1. It is beautiful Jan! I don't think I'd ever go for a fake tree either--but no fun to feel like you're coming down with a cold for a month! And we are going to talk a lot more about decorations and traditions here on 12/21!

  2. It's gorgeous, Jan! Well worth sneezing for. However, I confess that we caved in to allergies (mine and the kids') and got an artificial tree several years ago. I miss the piney smell and the sense of bringing the outdoors in, but I don't miss having to water it and sweep up pine needles or dispose of it after the holidays. And I've grown quite fond of our artificial tree; it's like greeting an old friend when I pull it out each year.

  3. Absolutely worth sneezing for! It's gorgeous. (My dog makes me sneeze so i might not be the most logical person to ask.)
    This year I'll be away for Christmas so I've decided not to put up a tree and know what? It's Dec. 10 and I already miss it! The smell, the needles. For the past few yeqars I've put my tree in my kitchen. (I did it one year because I couldn't stand to move the giant armoire in my living room again.) Now I love it there. I've even starting collecting kitchen/cooking type ornaments.
    Maybe just a small one...

  4. I love the way you put that Laura, I think I feel the same way about the Christmas decorations, and I did break down and get artificial pine garland for the front light pole.

    And Roberta, the sneezing seems to be waning as the tree dries a little bit. Also, the tree is in the living room- where I spend very little time -- until Christmas morning, and about all the pollen or whatever is making me sneeze - should be gone.


  5. Yes, Ro,
    Go get a small one. I'd LOVE to have the tree in the kitchen - except for the sneezing!

    (i live in the kitchen)

    have a great trip!


  6. Real tree every year. I even drag my family out to a tree farm and cut one down.

    My biggest problem with our tree is keeping the cat from drinking the water for the tree.

  7. I WANT A tree. Jan, maybe yours (yes! Beautiful!)could come to our house?

  8. Yes, it's beautiful! And glad your sneezing is subsiding. I tend to get the real tree fairly late so it still smells nice at Christmas. We have a wood stove on the other side of the room as the tree, so it dries out pretty quickly.

    I have a funny artificial tree story. My goofy (very dear, and departed) dad, after my parents divorced and all four of us kids were living on our own, got a small artificial tree, decorated it, and after Christmas moved it up to an unoccupied bedroom. He threw a sheet of plastic over it to keep the dust off, and simply brought it downstairs again the next December. Why take all the stuff off, store it, and put it on the same tree again next year when you can just leave it decorated?

    I wish I could do that with the live tree somehow. I love looking at it, but am growing to really dislike having to de-decorate it and put all the stuff back in the attic every year.


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  10. Meliissa,

    Cats do that??

    I am allergic to cats (naturally), but my daughter has one that is supposed to be non-allergic and he will be here for the holidays. (So how do you stop kitty from drinking pine water?)

    (I'm crazy about this cat and like the real tree, willing to suffer a few sneezes.)

    Hank, you can NOT have my tree. But you can come over and sip egg nog or hot cider before its majesty!!

    (Can you tell I've been watching reruns of the TUDORS?)


  11. Edith,

    Your father had the right idea!

    Yes, dedecorating the tree is so sad.

    But as wonderful as it is to bring the real tree into the house, by the Epiphany (Polish tradition requires waiting until the Epiphany to take it down, although I don't always make it) it is equally as wonderful to clear all that Christmas crap out.

    The house seems so big and clean when it's all gone. Christmas, I've decided, is very, very messy.


  12. Antihistamines work. Real trees (if you buy them soon after they're cut) do smell wonderful. So what if you have pine needles embedded in the cracks in your floor forever?

    I've known I was allergic to cats for at least half my life. I have three cats. Some things are worth it.

  13. Sheila,

    Really?? THree cats with cat allergy? Does it wind up desensitizing you like the shots do?]

    (I do get shots for cats which helps)


  14. It is gorgeous, Jan. We caved to artificial last tear when we got rid of the van and a tree doesn't fit in the car trunk. It looks perfect but I miss the smell

  15. Oh, Jan, your tree is lovely. I am so jealous. I have a tree story. We had a artificial tree for the first 20 years and then we went to real trees. The first year with a real tree Hubby put the tree in the corner of the living room at my request. He and our daughter had just finished decorating it and stepped into the kitchen to eat something. I was still wrapping presents on the coffee table. I have no idea why I looked up, but I did, just in time to see the tree falling in slow motion toward me. I yelled, “Whoa, the tree.” and Hubby ran in and grabbed it just be for it hit me. It seemed he had put it too close to the wall and when it relaxed, it pushed the tree over. All the lights were tangled and made dedecorating a nightmare. Hubby makes a list of lights as he puts them on the tree. One year the kids thought it would be fun to hide his list after the tree was decorated, but that’s another story.

    When we finally went back to an artificial tree a few years later, Hubby purchased a huge, wide tree while I was at work. It was great, but took up a third of our living room. We gave it to our daughter for her knew house the following year and purchased a tall, thin five footer that fits nicely in corner by the wall unit. It’s a tree, which I love and need, but tiny.

    Enjoy your big, lovely tree and live on Benadryl for the month of December.

  16. Will do,
    Great story Pat - enjoy your tree!

    and merry Christmas,

  17. The battle over the real vs the artificial tree was the yearly ritual in our house. My mom always wanted the artificial tree; my dad and I rebelled. Every year my dad and I went to the tree lot together, and every year my mom would sigh and say, "Well, just don't get a BIG one this time." We had nine foot ceilings and plenty of room in our living room--to this day I can't figure what she had against big trees . . . I'm horrified now, however, when I realize we put hot C7 lights on those dried out pines (remember when trees came nailed to a pair of crossed planks, and half the needles fell off when you carried it in the house?) but thank goodness we never had a fire.

    And we still have a real tree in our house. It's the only unbreakable Christmas tradition for me, although now we have a tree lot that puts the lovely fir trees in water the minute they come off the truck from Oregon, and this year we switched to LED lights--but not before Hubby and I plunged to the depths of Martha Stewart-esque insanity. We buffed the plastic casing on every bulb on four strings of lights with emery paper. It makes the lights glow instead of sparkle. Really, I'm just sayin'. Everyone needs a bit of Christmas craziness in their lives.