Christmas Trees: Real vs. Fake

By: Keith


We’ve always had real Christmas trees in our family.  I’m a traditional sort of person, and I prefer to have the sense that Christmas is more than plastic and commercialism.  I know deep down it really is mostly plastic and fake – the trees too.  But, having a real tree helps me see the season as something more real and substantive.  Other people don’t take trees as seriously; that’s just a preference.  They see a Christmas tree as a mere formality of the season and don’t ascribe any special relevance to it other than a place under which to place presents.  That’s how I feel about Santa Clause, wrapping paper and the yule log.  I’ve chosen the tree as the object in which I chose to place meaning.  Here’s why.


Special Symbolism:


TreeOfLifeTrees are tangible reminders of the earth.  They symbolize life, death, strength, determination and family. We have family trees where we are said to lay our roots. Every religion in the world uses trees as mythology.  There is the tree of life and knowledge, the burning bush, the World Tree of Norse mythology, the Mughal garden in Islamic traditions; the Romans even decorated their houses with trees in reverence to the god of agriculture, Saturnus.  Everybody, Christian, pagan or whatever respects the meaning of trees.  The Germans were the originators of the Christmas tree as they used to hang apples from them, symbolizing the promise of imminent spring.  It is also a convenient Christian symbol because of the many trees mentioned throughout the Bible.  Martin Luther is said to have decorated a tree in the dead of winter around the year 1500 (proof is elusive).  The bottom line is that of all the trappings of Christmas, the tree holds the most meaning for me.  For that reason I prefer to have a real one in the house.


Pros of Real Trees: The Smell, the tradition, cutting it down rather than unpacking it.


Pros of Fake Trees: Clean, Convenient, reusable, pick your color.


It’s all about what you want.  Do you want convenience and simplicity?  Then a fake tree is for you.  Do you see trees like I do, and are you willing to put up with inconvenience for the sake of the smell and the tradition?  Clearly a real tree is for you.  I’m biased, but I understand that a person’s choice of trees is nothing more than a manifestation of where they chose to place their energy at Christmas.  It would not be Christmas for me without the smell and symbolic reminders of an evergreen.  We had a plastic tree when I lived in Mexico (as evergreens are hard to come by in the city) and it didn’t feel right. I’m clearly a little weird about trees. Other people are weird about Santa or presents or food.  I won’t conspicuously neglect Jesus either; some folks have completely dropped the pagan traditions of Christmas altogether in favor of a purely Christian holiday.  That’s fine too.  Enjoy the holiday, and celebrate it for the meaning it carries for you.



15 Responses to “Christmas Trees: Real vs. Fake”
  1. PJ Mullen November 30, 2009 at 12:24 pm #

    We are currently having this debate in my house. My wife always had a real tree growing up, while I always had a fake tree. We probably would have had real trees, but we used to go on vacation up to New England for two weeks to visit family at Christmas and it didn’t make much sense to have a real tree rotting away in our living room. Plus my mom is gonzo about Christmas and to this day has at least two different trees up in different rooms of her house. Also, each year one of the trees has a different theme while the other has her Hallmark ornament collection. Personally, I’d be fine with the Charlie Brown tree and some eggnog.
    .-= PJ Mullen´s last blog ..Got a turkey leftover hangover? =-.

    • Keith November 30, 2009 at 10:17 pm #

      Yeah, PJ, I didn’t really think about that, the people who aren’t even at home for christmas. That makes sense. Speaking of charlie Brown trees — We had no money for the first few years we were married. I picked up a branch during a walk and, for some reason, brought it home. Well, it stayed in the house for years (again, don’t know why). Since we couldn’t afford a tree, we just decorated the branch every year! It was really funny :-)

  2. J. Cruikshank November 30, 2009 at 5:36 pm #

    Again you’ve taught me something. I never knew how symbolic the tree has been throughout history but now that you mention it… yeah! Personally I prefer the real deal but having destroyed one after my dad died I haven’t deserved one since. I’d be real happy with an aluminum one with the color wheel though!

    • Keith November 30, 2009 at 10:14 pm #

      Mom, you are going to have to explain how you could have destroyed one :-) that sounds like a travesty

  3. BigLittleWolf December 1, 2009 at 10:35 am #

    Real! The aroma, the texture, the ritual of having to water it. The delight (even as they grow older) of going out to pick just the right tree, even if budget dictates that it be smaller than when the children were younger.

    There’s something magical in it, even if part of the magic is in bringing something that usually is outside in winter inside, and gathering around it or enjoying it for as long as it lasts. Its impermanence even holds lessons. And occasionally, we’ve gotten small trees that are living, and have managed to keep them going for a good long time. There’s great pleasure in that as well.
    .-= BigLittleWolf´s last blog ..Courage =-.

  4. dadshouse December 1, 2009 at 5:49 pm #

    I love the smell of a real tree in our house! We get them from a farm that grows xmas trees, so I don’t feel like we’re randomly chopping down nature.
    .-= dadshouse´s last blog ..Breaking Up Just Before Things are Perfect =-.

  5. Chris | CleverFather December 1, 2009 at 9:38 pm #

    We never had a real tree growing up and have continued on that way. I admit that a real one would probably great but I don’t think the wife would appreciate me strapping one on to the car to get it home!
    .-= Chris | CleverFather´s last blog ..New Dad: No Sleep =-.

    • Keith December 1, 2009 at 11:05 pm #

      Chris, thanks for visiting! Come on, Chris; everyone needs to do the ol’ Christmas Vacation thing once in a while. you know, with the squirrel living in there and all. LOL

  6. Stephanie December 1, 2009 at 10:01 pm #

    Another pro of fake trees: cost. Because they’re reusable, the monetary investment is $0 each year. :)
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..FOR FAMILIES: Personalized Map from National Geographic =-.

  7. Ralph Baker November 25, 2010 at 10:34 am #

    Hello from a 60-year veteran of Cape Cod houses with REAL fir trees for the Christmas season. OK, Stephanie…the economics of a fake tree may be $0 from one year to the next, but are the $$$ savings truly worth the absense of the real McCoy in the living room?

    Nothing – I mean NOTHING! – beats the natural beauty of a fine Douglas Fir or young Ponderosa Pine decorated with tinsel, assorted C-balls, candy canes and colored lights to bring merriment to an otherwise plain gathering spot. The aroma is superb, and snow cover outside makes the whole affair a triple A+!

    Cheers from Ralph! :D


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