Real or Fake Christmas Trees

It’s a cool summers day in Melbourne. Steady rainfall causes me to pause at the front door. I peer through a misty haze of rain.  Reflective pools of water have collected on the driveway. Water drips from the lush green branches of thuja trees that line the driveway. Water splashes off the yellow, red and green bin lids in a pleasing rhythmic percussion. I breath scent the fresh scent of eucalyptus and pine and think of Christmas.

December is a special month in the calendar year. It hosts Christmas and marks the time to slow down and travel more mindfully through the world. It invites us to measure our journey through moments not miles. With ten days until Christmas the shopping centres are at their busiest. At home Christmas trees are up, decorated and ready for the treasure-trove of beautifully wrapped presents to be piled underneath its dazzling branches.

Christmas is a special time

Christmas is a special time for everyone. As a child, I delighted in seeing our Christmas tree come to life under an assortment of tinsel, coloured lights, precious glass ornaments and handmade baubles. Helping to decorate the Christmas tree gave me the greatest sense of joy and anticipation of good times to come. I loved hearing mum singing happily to her favourite Christmas music Bing Crosbys White Christmas.

As a parent I have many cherish memories but the one that stands out the most for me is driving to a Christmas tree farm with my youngest daughter Isobel. We were on a mission to find the perfect Christmas tree, so it was a slow process as we took our time to choose the best tree to take home.

Every year we looked forward to hanging Christmas decorations. It was probably the only time we truly worked together in harmony with the sole purpose of making our tree special and our home festive. We laughed freely and chatted openly while working around the tall pine tree putting just as much effort into decorating the back as the front and sides, and all the time inhaling the smell of pine needles. Having a real Christmas tree was a great memory maker for us.

Real Christmas Trees

Real Christmas trees are gloriously messy, time consuming to set up but fabulously entertaining Although I do love a real tree, I no longer have my helpers, so it always looks tipsy- and no that wasn’t because I had consumed one too many gin cocktails. FYI a real tree can be difficult to get straight if you don’t get the screws perfectly balanced, so annoying!!

When you buy a pine Christmas tree you are the instigator of its demise. It stands in all its finery dying slowly before your eyes. Drooping and shedding pine needles daily until its natural beautiful is no more. Real trees are the ultimate disposable decoration.  In recent years I have switched from real to fake and downsized from full sized fake tree to one that can sit comfortably on the dining table with the other festive ornaments.

Artificial trees are convenient and perfect in a manufactured way. With more styles shapes colours sizes and features compared to real trees. It is easy to understand why people buy expensive pre lit trees that save time, money and the stress of untangling last year’s lights; plus, it is child friendly, and you won’t need help to set it up or trip over the myriad of power cords.

Christmas Tree Lights

Enchanting fibre optic and led lights look amazing but nothing is made to last, and redundancy is built into all electrical appliances including Christmas trees. You may end up with a perfectly good tree with dud lights, I know we did. Obsolescence is an intentional failure of design or design flaws that keep you coming back to spend money. Good quality tree lights have a life of 6-7 seasons (years). Something to consider when purchasing a new tree.

Fabulous and Fake

Once upon a time appliances and fake Christmas trees were cheap to make and lasted a lifetime. They were easy to erect just pull up the mechanical tinsel branches, all done in 5 min. Now everything is high tech you have to read the booklet of instructions; nothing comes apart and repairs are impractical which means throw “it” away when “it” stops working.

This month has been very expensive for me apart from the Christmas presents. Our Miele dishwasher (just out of its extended 4-year warranty) and my 2-year-old Breville smart Kettle both stopped working, that is to say heating water. Expensive service to fix the first and total replacement for the other.

I now question the value of buying expensive electrical appliances which cost double the money but only last as long as their cheaper versions. My rule now is never buying a $2,000 appliance because it’s probably going last as long as the cheaper one. This rule is now extended to Christmas trees. Its fake plastic trees from Target Kmart or Bunnings for me. Spending a fraction of the cost will fill the gap when real tree is not in the rotation.

Disposable Trees

Both real and fake Christmas trees have their merits but deciding how best to celebrate the festive season well that’s a personal choice. To be honest I love my fake tree that I can carry all by myself from one room to another. These is no maintenance or storage problems and no precious ornaments for toddlers to accidently break. I still love the look and smell of a real Christmas tree but by visiting the grandkids I get the pleasure of real without having to sweep up the pine needles into the new year.

Real trees are cheap and can be recycled back into landfill cleanly unlike plastic trees which can last up to 500 years. Fake trees will eventually need to be replaced after a decade if properly looked after which means more economic but not eco-friendly or sustainable.

Being a tree hugger, I look to recycle reuse and repurpose consumables; therefore, replacing appliances (including Christmas trees) regularly is not something I am happy about. Choosing the best Christmas tree for the environment for me comes down to disposal.

Sustainable Christmas Trees

A sustainable Christmas tree is one you never have to cut down or throw away so for me I think a potted plant or miniature pine tree that you can relocate from year to year then plant in the garden would be the best choice. Alternatively using cuttings or twigs to make a cute, handcrafted tree not only looks arts and crafts cool but who doesn’t admire a sustainable style. If fake is your choice, then go cheap and cheerful shop local and says NO to obsolescence and yes to reusing or recycling once you are done.

Christmas with the Kranks

Christmas always feels more authentic with real tree.  More fun to decorate and the smell of fresh pine is hard to beat. Let’s agree that a real pine tree is the beating heart of Christmas décor, but fake tree is an ok substitute depending on the circumstances. This year my partner and I have decided to skip Christmas all together and go on a tropical holiday. Our Christmas tree is very much fake, and I don’t feel deprived or guilty one bit. Remember “feelings aren’t fake” so whatever makes you happy is the right choice!

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