Sunday, November 28, 2010

Artificial Christmas trees: What would Santa do?

Christmas season is upon us, but you don't need this old scribe to tell you something so obvious. Between Halloween and Thanksgiving, it's like a lawn mower that takes a couple of cranks, sputters two or three times and then, usually on Thanksgiving night, roars to life with more decibel fury than the 1977 Motörhead arena tour.

I witness it every Thanksgiving evening on the ride home from Grandma’s house in our sapphire blue 2003 Kia minivan. Before the take-home turkey has even cooled inside the washed out Cool Whip container, my family’s thoughts and comments have shifted to Christmas.

Naturally, mine do as well. I can't help but ponder the new set of ads I'll see, and how long it'll take to become disillusioned with the rampant consumerism in our media. I envision the following holiday campaigns:

“Cialis for the holidays. Isn't it time you got that tree up?”

“From our children in China to your children in the developed world, Merry Christmas from your friends at Wal-Mart.

“America, you ate 46 million birds on Thanksgiving. What's the big deal about a few more who died a slightly different way? Come back to us...please. Happy holidays from B.P.

This weekend, we solidified our seasonal plans. It's almost like a little board of directors meeting, deciding for whom we'll bake or buy something, when we'll we get the girls’ pictures with Santa (Sure, they're fifteen and ten years old, but traditions die hard.), and most importantly, when we'll get the tree.

Naturally, the Christmas tree is the central focus in any Yuletide setting. Your house can ooze with Christmasness, but if there's no tree in the corner, it's like...I don't know...Rush Limbaugh without a bra, or a McRib sandwich sans ground up cloven hoof. 

We've always come home with a real tree; that's all I've ever known. One of my earliest memories is venturing out with my dad into rural western Washington to legally chop down a tree along county power lines. Hopefully, yearly exposure to high tension wires isn't the reason my elbow sprouted a couple of molars and a goatee, but I grew really fond of the hunt for the perfect tree out there with my old man. That woodsy living room smell is synonymous with Christmas.

That's why today's board meeting left me reeling a little bit. The family decided to finally get a fake tree, but to pick up some seasonal greens to garnish our house and soften the blow of no more wood pitch on the carpet. We asked ourselves, what's the point of driving forty miles to a tree farm, sawing down a nicely manicured, conical evergreen, paying sixty bucks and driving back? 

None, really. We resolved to channel the time and expense toward hosting friends for a Christmas open house. Sure, there are some upfront costs, like the artificial tree and a new red reindeer sweater and pipe for the man of the house. 

And I should probably go to the dentist about my elbow.

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