Others might be planning for Halloween, but as a mom, you know that with the end of summer comes a much more pressing countdown: Christmas is almost upon us. The sooner you start making decisions about the year’s biggest holiday, the more enjoyable the winter season will be for you, as you won’t need to scramble for gifts, decorations, feasts and family gatherings.
One of the most iconic elements of Christmas is the tree — which also makes it one of the most controversial components of the season. In particular, should you bother with a real, living Christmas tree, or should you invest in a faux tree you can use again and again?
Advantages of a Real Tree
To get a real Christmas tree into your home, you can visit a tree lot in your town or find a Christmas tree farm nearby to enjoy the experience of harvesting your home’s holiday centerpiece as a family. In either case, you will install in your home a tree that provides the following noteworthy benefits:
There are no candles or air freshening sprays that can capture the subtle magic that is the scent of a real Christmas tree. The pine oils from the tree will suffuse your home, providing delight and comfort throughout the season.
While many faux trees may come close, none are perfect at capturing the look and feel of a real Christmas tree. The authenticity of your tree can elevate the sophistication of the rest of your holiday décor and provide a solid grounding for your holiday festivities.
You will need to store the lights and ornaments you use to decorate your tree, but the tree itself will always be discarded at the end of the season. It might be wise to buy a real tree every Christmas if your home has limited storage space that might be better used for other items.
However you choose to obtain your real Christmas tree, it is always an experience. Your kids will always remember your annual sojourns to choose the perfect tree, and the traditions associated with caring for your tree will become precious seasonal memories.
Disadvantages of a Real Tree
A real Christmas tree can be charming, but it is a noteworthy nuisance, as well. While faux Christmas trees will look near-perfect for years and years, requiring little more from you than space for storage, real trees impose themselves on you and your household in the following ways:
From the moment it is separated from its roots, a Christmas tree starts to die. You and your family will need to maintain the tree in various ways to slow its death and decay, from replacing water to adding fertilizer to trimming off dead limbs. Unless your kids are old enough to manage these chores themselves, you probably don’t want any more responsibility during the holiday season.
As Christmas trees die, they dry out, and they drop their dead needles on your floor. Every day — perhaps every few hours — you will need to clean up the needles to keep your home looking neat and tidy. Then, once the season is over, you will need to find a way to dispose of the tree, as not all city waste pickup services will accept them.
Real Christmas trees ooze sap, and that sap can cause mild to extreme allergic reactions. You or other members of your household might experience itchy eyes, a runny nose or sneezing — or you could break out in a poison ivy-like rash. If you or a loved one has particularly sensitive skin or respiratory conditions, you might want to skip the real tree for the sake of safety.
The pine trees grown for Christmas are of a particularly fast-growing species, but even so, they can take between six and eight years to reach the right height. All those resources devoted to growing a tree destined to die in your living room might be better spent elsewhere on more sustainable activities.
The Christmas tree is perhaps the most recognizable icon of the holiday, so your family needs a tree of some sort to celebrate the season in style. Whether you decide that you can manage a real tree or you determine that a faux tree makes more sense for your lifestyle is up to you — and the other members of your family, too.