Store bought tree blues

October 30, 2020


Okay . . . convince me I did the right thing!

Years ago with the real deal.

2020 finally broke me slam in two. In a moment of worn-out weary weakness, I ordered an artificial, pretend, phony-baloney, fake Christmas tree. I’ll never be the same again. 

There are many things I can’t do, but I won’t bore you with those needless details, however, I will tell you that I am an expert at decorating a Christmas tree. The hospital where I was born in Florala had large evergreens on the lawn, and the nurses noted how I stared out the window at them and smiled my first toothless smile. 

The Christmas tree at The Grand Hotel is one of the largest live trees in our area.

I’m very picky about my Christmas tree not looking matchy-matchy or store bought. Preferring the lopsided all-natural Charlie Brown trees, I think they symbolize something lowly being transformed into the spectacular. A plain tree in the forest made glistening and bright just like a humble dirty manger bringing forth a spectacular gift for the world. Evergreen, ever loving, a store-bought tree just can’t fit this scenario, can it? 

“You’ll love it!” said Eva Leigh. “It will be beautiful.” said Darla. “I’ve lost my mind.” I whined.  

The artificial trees always looked too perfect — like little green traffic cones or prickly party hats. “Nothing in nature looks that good” I told my mother, who for years has used an artificial tree. I wondered sometimes if I was really her daughter (so did she). 

But then, during the last few years, we wanted to visit family for a few days leading up to Christmas. Who would water the tree? I was the only one who took care of it anyway — partly because I’d scream, “Get away from the tree!” If anyone wandered near. 

The final straw was Hurricane Sally. I’m still so shell-shocked from losing so many trees, the last thing I wanted to do this year was to traipse around the homestead (or Home Depot) to cut another one down. 

The real reason I finally caved in and ordered the mock-tree was because I tested positive for COVID during the summer and although I was blessed to have had a mild case, I experienced great sleepiness and was a bit foggy-headed. My purchase should have been covered by insurance. 

Freedom to travel, no watering, no hurricane trauma, no dry needles on the floor and a feeling of pandemic wooziness were all reasons that led me to a weak moment.  The tree was delivered the week before Halloween. “What have I done?” I asked my husband as I dragged the coffin shaped box down the hallway. 

I’m hoping that I can twist or bend a few of the branches to make it look catawampus and imperfectly lifelike. There has to be a candle somewhere that smells like a real tree and maybe I can sprinkle some ladybugs, pinecones or bird nests throughout to give it a woodsy vibe. 

The box of green plastic parts and pieces labeled “A” “B” “C” and “D” (absolutely-bad-Christmas-decision) is sitting in my son’s room behind a closed door so I don’t have to think about it just yet. Part of me thinks I’ll like it, part of me thinks I’ve sold out. I’ll let you know how the fraudulent tree experiment goes, right after I celebrate an authentically real Thanksgiving with fake orange leaves on my table. 

This story first appeared on and in the Mobile Press-Register, Birmingham News and Huntsville Times.

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