Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Do They Still Make Wooden Christmas Trees?

As a child, one of the fondest memories I have was joining Mom and Dad in the annual adventure of picking out the family Christmas tree.  It involved going to several tree lots to find “the perfect” tree.

Dad would wade into the “forest” and pick out one that had that “just right” shape.  He’d call Mom and me over to inspect the tree he’d chosen.  Mom would circle the tree to make sure there weren’t any bad spots.  Then I would give it a thumbs up.

I remember the advent of the artificial tree.  Sometime around 1965 the aluminum tree debuted in America.  If you bought one of those babies you had to have a color wheel to shine on it.  It was like a disc that was divided into four colors that turned so that each color would alternately illuminate the shiny limbs of the tree.   Mom and Dad decided to buy one.  I never liked it and was very vocal about it.  I think we put the hideous thing up twice before I convinced them that a real tree was so much better.  I missed the trip to the tree lot; the excitement of hunting for and finding the right tree, strapping it to the roof of the car and decorating it when we got it home.  There’s something about the scent of a real tree at Christmastime.

Thanks to A Charlie Brown Christmas, sales of the aluminum tree declined.  In the Peanuts special, Charlie Brown and his pal Linus head to a lot to buy a tree for the school play.  They are overwhelmed by all the aluminum trees.  Charlie Brown spots a tiny, pitiful Christmas tree and Linus asks, “Do they still make wooden Christmas trees?”  A Charlie Brown Christmas pointed to an over-commercialization of Christmas.

Lately, I haven’t seen as many trees going down the highway headed to someone’s home.  Is this a sign that the artificial tree has replaced the real thing in our homes?

I am happy to report that the answer is a resounding no.  According to the National Christmas Tree Association, poll results from 2011 show that consumers in the U.S. purchased just under 31 million farm-grown Christmas trees and 9.5 million new plastic, artificial trees. Real trees outsell artificial trees by a greater than 3 to 1 margin.

There are some beautiful artificial trees available.  The good ones are pricey.  I realize that they don’t dry out, they don’t drop needles that wind up becoming embedded in the carpet and aren’t messy when you take them down.

Call me old-fashioned, but it’s hard to beat bundling up in your winter coat, popping in a Bing Crosby CD and hitting the road in search of the Yuletide spirit and memory-making that can be found in the perfect 8-foot Fraser fir.  It far surpasses plunking down $100 or more for the perfect limited-warranty, made in China, pre-lit polyvinylchloride Christmas tree.


  1. We are around the same age...The good old days.

  2. If you ever want to see why a real tree is bad, just take one out that has been up for a month and throw a match on it. I did that once and before the match even hit the tree it was on fire. The fire was huge and so big it almost melted the powerline 30 feet high. I decided the good old days were not that good.

  3. @Randy-g,

    Ah yes, the good old days indeed.

  4. @david 7134,

    Were you then or are you now still a "firebug"?

    Just kidding there, David.

    If you take care to water the tree and follow other safety precautions, there's no reason why a real tree can't be thoroughly enjoyed.

  5. crumudgeon,
    As I said, try it. Watering does not work that well as a pine scabs over and at a point water will not be absorbed. But try the experiment yourself and see what happens. Just be prepared for a big fire. As to a firebur, we burn everything in the south, one of the benefits.

  6. Curmudgeon, I do indeed remember the aluminum trees and the color wheel! The wheel would make the tree change colors - red, blue, yellow, green. It was actually a bit boring. Yes, old fashioned trees are best. When my son was young, we would trek to a tree farm and cut our own tree down. He and his mom would be searching for the perfect tree until I lost my patience and threatened to saw down the very next tree I came to. Then the tree would be netted and tied to the roof of our car, and off we'd go towards home.

    I remember the wonderful fragrance of pine permeating the house when I came home from work at night. My little son hanging ornaments on the tree, including an angel he made from construction paper and paste.

    Ah, I see the Ghosts of Christmas were right, Christmases past live on in our hearts and memories and blend with Christmases present. Later today we are off to Los Angeles to see that son, now grown, as well as another older son and a pack of grandkids. Time to make some new Christmas memories.

    May yours be warm and bright and filled with love.

  7. @Stogie,

    Thank you so much for the warm Yuletide wishes. May your Christmas be merry and bright and filled with the love we all need at this time of year and all the year through.


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