We are officially in holiday mode! Bring on the carols. Pass around some egg nog. And let's get ourselves the biggest tree Mother Nature has to offer! And Mother Nature must have known we were coming because she delivered us the most beautiful sun and mild temperatures than we ever could have imagined for December.
We debate the real vs artificial tree every. single. year. And every year, the real tree wins out. The artificial tree has a couple of things going for it. 1. you can put it up earlier 2. they are usually pre-lit. When I'm feeling overwhelmed with things to do, the artificial tree is very lucrative. Pop it out of the box and hang some ornaments. Job done and wrapped up in a couple hours. Every branch is perfect. It is a perfect tree shape. No water necessary. No needles to vacuum.
So why does the real tree keep winning out?
Maybe the real tree wins every year simply because that's what we've always done. There is a moment when the tree is first brought into the house and if you stand beside it and you can feel its frozen, coldness radiating off its branches. Then you take a deep breath and inhale the intoxicating Christmas scent of evergreen tree. It is that moment that transports me back to every Christmas from the last 40 years and resurrects memories of good times with family and cousins. I can feel the cold air entering with every opened door. I hear people laughing and kids playing. I remember my childhood gifts and different places we've celebrated. Yes, all this with one sniff.
And the real tree wins because I want my girls to experience the sniff too. We decided to head out into the forest again this year to find our tree instead of ordering it from a service group...mostly because my brain was doing some thinking. I was thinking about how we often take the things that are right in front of us for granted. Like maybe there are people who live next door to Disneyland and have never been because they know they could go anytime. We live in a place where the forest is on our doorstep and the experience of trudging through the snow surrounded by peacefulness and fresh air in search of the perfect tree is at our fingertips. And what if my girls grow up and move away and never have the opportunity to cut down a real tree for their home. What if that experience was at their fingertips for much of their lifetime and we never took advantage of it. Because really, this is holiday movie kinda stuff!
The Grinch told us, "maybe Christmas, didn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas...perhaps... means a little bit more." And so when I think of the ease and the practicality of an artificial tree weighing in against the time and effort and work of a real tree I imagine the Grinch telling me, "maybe Christmas isn't just a checklist of things to get through, maybe Christmas...perhaps... is about why we do the things we do."
Maybe next year the artificial tree will win out. Maybe I'll think, "okay, the girls have experienced a real tree, now we can move on." Who knows. Maybe I just think too much! What I do know is that our tree is up. It's about 11 feet tall. It fell on me once. We needed Grandma's help to get the lights on. Every decoration we own is on it. We stayed up late, Grandma had her first sleep over, we watched Christmas movies and pumped the tunes from the Yuletide fireplace...and we made some new sniff memories.