Interesting how simple decisions can turn into major debates for some folks. Paper or plastic was an easy one for me. The plastic ones have handles and that beats bags breaking out of my hands on rainy trips to the car. Cloth or disposable was settled by the pediatrician. The disposables put an end to my baby's diaper rash. But real or artificial is a decision I still struggle with.
High on my childhood memory list are trips through our woods to pick a Christmas tree. About a week before Christmas, my dad would take my brothers and I on the quest. Acres of sweet, heady pine trees drenched in clouds of pure snow defined the search area. The perfect tree was always an hour away. My brothers and I would point to this one or that But Dad said we should keep looking. Just when we thought we could walk no longer, he'd point to a tree. We'd sit on fallen logs or brush snow off a makeshift rock chair and watch him cut the tree. Afterwards, we'd gather up that last of our energy for the trip home. Mom had hot chocolate and Christmas cookies waiting for us. She'd give Dad a smile and nod her head. I always assumed it was her approval of the tree. Years later I learned the true meaning: "Yes, I got all the presents wrapped."
When I left home , I could still count on my father to bring a tree. Until a new job took me hundreds of miles away. A lot tree lacked the charisma of those from childhood, but it was a beauty nonetheless. There was a moment of panic when the entryway appeared too narrow, but then the branches bent and the tree was in my apartment. Up and decorated, it outshined any from my childhood.
Unlike my parents, I'd set up my tree early in December. Why not enjoy it for the entire holiday season? But over the next couple of weeks, my tree lost some of it's lustre. A visiting friend suggested I put some water in the tree base. You water trees after they're cut down? Oh! Too little, too late. The day after Christmas found me rushing to remove an expired tree from my home. Branches that had gracefully bent to accommodate my entryway were gone, replaced by unyielding sticks that snapped and cast hoards of brown needles into the carpet. The memory of hours on my knees picking needles out of the carpet stayed with me. The next year I got my first artificial tree.
My daughter was four that year. Needless to say, she does not remember real trees. My granddaughter only knows artificial ones too. Her excitement when we purchased a new tree this year was certainly equal to mine on childhood tree searches. The tree is beautiful and perfectly shaped. It requires no maintenance. It's branches will never turn brown. A tree hasn't been killed A fire safety hazzard has been avoided. This should be an easy decision.
Still, I remember. And I struggle.