Virtual Advent: Evolution of a Christmas Tree

Welcome to my stop on the Virtual Advent Tour! Thanks Kelly and Marg for once again hosting the tour. Other stops today are:
Check out the tour blog for the full schedule.

There was a time when we were limited in our Christmas tree selection. To find a tree, one had to take a saw out into the wilderness and search for one that wasn't too wonky looking. Now we have tree salesmen on every corner, Christmas tree farms, and good ole Canadian Tire with their plastic fantastic varieties.

When I was a kid, we always had an artificial tree. My Mom didn't like real trees. I never understood why. We would drag the old cardboard box out, pull out the pieces (some still covered by tinsel of the year before) and stick it all together. It was a reasonable facsimile of a tree. One year my brothers and I begged for a real tree. ALL our friends had real trees. Why can't we? Mom conceded but she wasn't spending money on a tree that we'd have to toss out when there was a perfectly good one in the crawlspace under the stairs. If we wanted one, we had to go and find one in the woods. So, off we went, through knee deep snow, into the wild woods. Finding a tree that's just the right size is harder than it seems. It took some time- with our toesies freezing in our boots, but we found something. Then we hacked at the frozen truck until it was free of the ground. Needless to say, we were back to the artificial next year.

Then I bought my own home and vowed I would always have a real tree.

At first, I stuck to that vow. My husband and I made it a tradition to take a trip to our local Christmas tree farm. (Now for anyone who feels guilty about buying a real tree should find out where their tree comes from. Some tree farms were once traditional farms that because of economics chose Christmas tree farming. While the trees grow, they are preventing soil erosion, and helping clean the air. Plus, you are supporting family owned farms.)

Most of the time, it was fun picking out our tree unless it was really cold... or raining. We also couldn't get a tree that was too tall or too wide. Our living room was pretty small. Then after a white knuckle drive home with a tree tied to our roof (or in the trunk- needles everywhere!) we had to wrestle it into the stand and into the house. Christmas just isn't Christmas without swearing. The reality of a real tree indoors finally hit me:
  • Needles- I was still vacuuming up this stuff in July. Every time the dog would walk by the tree, needles went flying.
  • Sap- Yes, it gets on your hands but that's not the only place. We had sap on the wall behind our tree until we repainted the room.
  • Spiders- Do you know where spiders live in the winter? In the trees. And when it gets warm? They wake up and start moving around.
  • Water- You have to remember to water the tree twice a day or you get kindling. And one year our stand leaked. By the time we found out, water had stained our hardwood floor.
So I began to see where my mother was coming from. Still we kept getting real trees. There is nothing like the smell of a real tree!

A couple of years ago, we built a new house. We lovingly picked out every item that went into it. We moved in and Christmastime came around again. I remembered the sap. I remembered the floor and the water. I remembered the spiders. I went artificial tree shopping.

They really aren't as ugly as they used to be. You do have to spend a bit on a good one. And they have pre-lit ones now too! After you toss all the ornaments on, they look pretty good. Really. You never have to worry about watering it and you can put it up as early as you want.

Maybe someday I'll have a real tree again. I do miss that smell. For now, I have my Canadian Tire tree.

Here's Vince Guaraldi's version of O Tannenbaum for you to enjoy. Merry Christmas!


  1. I do love the smell of real trees, but to me the minuses definitely beat the pluses. I went artificial some five years ago and never looked back. (Spiders - argh!)

  2. LOL -- what a great story. Your tree looks lovely and is stress-free.

  3. O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum! I'm ALL about the artificial trees... I do like my little box elder tree, tho. (Which reminds me, I need to water the lil guy.) Happy Holidays, Care

  4. I've always had a real tree and don't think I could ever go fake, but I'm not evangelical about other people's choices. Your tree looks great!

  5. When we were first married, we always had a real, real tree (the kind that you can plant after Christmas). And we did. We planted each one in our yard after Christmas. Pretty soon, we had no more room for trees!

    It's still cool to go past our old house and see all our old Christmas trees. Wonder if the people who live there now know?

    My Advent post is at

  6. Spiders? Eek!! That would do it for me. We had an artificial tree when first married, then it lost too many needles after years of moving. We switched to real trees for a few years but then went back to my artificial, pre-lit tree. I love it! They have candles to help with the smell, and the ease and clean-up is worth it.

  7. we always had an artificial tree and I've never been sad. I get "tree smell" spray from the store so my house smells Christmas-y. I absolutely love the prelit trees. So easy to set up and then my son can go crazy with putting up the ornaments. I love the lights!

  8. I've always been a die-hard real Christmas tree girl - but I got home from work last night, and apparently my roommate had gotten rid of our was swarming with aphids! :( I had to come back and comment because I remembered thinking about this post as he was telling me. I think it may be time for me to consider those nifty artificial trees you all keep talking about!

  9. Artificial trees have come a long way ... you can get them pre-lit, many sizes and types. So I tell my husband, but he insists on REAL (he had artificial as a kid, and says he always wanted a real tree ... I've always had real, and, since I do most of the vacuuming, I'm OK switching to artificial. But, he and the kids get their way, so far!)


  10. Thanks for sharing your wonderful story. It fits perfectly with the book I just finished: The Christmas Quilt, by Thomas J. Davies. They go out to the woods to pick out a tree too.

    I have no time to relate *my* story about Christmas trees, but I'm really happy to inform you we have a tree again for the first time in years. It's a real one, rental (going back into the grounds), doing well, and I love it.

    Happy holidays!

  11. Isn't it funny how our traditions from our family of origin so drive our choices as adults? We have had an artifical tree for 20+ years, the SAME tree bought at a K-Mart red light special for 75 cents--anything Christmas, they said, went for 75 cents. Yes, I miss the aroma of cedar, but I think we really got a value, but now we are rethinking our choice due to GREEN ideas...


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