Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Do You Use Plastic?

And I'm not talkin' charge cards or shopping bags!  I'm referring to artificial Christmas trees.  Actually, they come in a wide variety of materials, colors, sizes, and shapes.  As for smells, there's just one variety and it must be a real Christmas tree.

Side Note:  You may want to check out article #11 "Deck The Halls" where I tell a little about the history of Christmas trees.

I grew up with nothing but real Christmas trees.  They were large (or was I little) and usually long needle.  They always had a crooked trunk which caused more than one fall over and at times a hefty string tied off to a window frame.  They always had bare spots that we worked hard to hide either by turning this way and that or if that failed, put the largest ornament in the hole.  

Our decorations were an array of old and homemade.  I still have several of my mother's ornaments and cherish them simply for that fact.  Even at a young age, I was "into" decorating for Christmas.  Every year I made a series of paper chains, strung popcorn, and I'm sure colored and cut various oddities.  Believe me, Charlie Brown's Christmas tree wasn't something I laughed at - I sympathized!

Much ta do was made about getting the lights untangled, all working and hung on the tree.  This is something I still find tedious and pawn off on anyone near.  We had the variegated large bulbs and bubble lights.  They were so old they only bubbled if you flicked them with your finger.  

Another tradition was the star at the top.  Growing up in the Indiana "Bible Belt" required a star at the top, made of gold foil and one large yellow light.  Traditionally, the manger was placed under the tree.  It was my job (or perhaps I didn't let anyone else) to keep this arranged perfectly.  I still use the old manger and figures even though it's a little worse for wear.  It's the last thing I put out and I still pause when passing to reflect on Christ's birth and Christmas memories.

Shop for a natural/real tree:
  • Buy from a local source.  Even some of your local retailers are buying their trees from local farms.  Locally grown trees will be the most fresh. 
  • Bang the tree of your choice hard on the ground to see if the needles hold.  If they loose a bunch - look for another.
  • Cut a few inches off the bottom as soon as you get home and put in a bucket of warm water in a cool place overnight.  A fresh tree will take up lots of water every day.  Check every morning and night to see if it needs more.
  • At some point, it will stop taking up water.  This is the time to carefully watch how dry it becomes and dispose of it when it starts seriously dropping needles.
  • Keep it away from registers and heaters and open flames.  
  • Use LCD lights that produce no heat.
  • Dispose of all old lights.  If you must keep that old set of lights from you mom or grandma, don't use them plugged in.  A large clear glass vase with them inside, a bow and a note:  "For Mom" works and isn't a fire hazard.
I've done artificial for several years.  One is thin and elegant.  The other is large and often fools people because it looks like it is fresh from the forest. I thought they were easier - in reality they're not easy at all and just about as messy.  The plus is they don't dry out. 

But, my heart is calling for a real tree and I'm thinking next year for sure.  Now, I just have to find one that is crooked and has a few other obvious flaws. . .   

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