I am a real tree kind of girl. Growing up in Maine in the 70's, we kids would pick out not one, but two trees with my dad, and he would wire, cut and drill, crafting the two trees into one densely-branched masterpiece. One year, he and my mother even bought each of us kids smaller trees of our own for our bedrooms. I loved lying under the tree, sucking on a piece of ribbon candy, and squinting to make the lights blur and twinkle. As an adult, I love the tradition of finding a new ornament each year with my husband, and decorating the tree together with the Peanuts Christmas CD playing on the stereo.
I understand the convenience of artificial trees, and I also know that cutting down trees just to haul them inside and let them die after a few weeks isn't exactly environmentally sound. In fact, I'd been dreaming of the day when we'd have enough property to buy a potted tree every year and then plant them on our own land. This year, however, reality has finally put the kibosh on that fantasy, at least the potted tree part; not the property part.
You see, over the last few years I have developed an allergy to evergreens. Not just a sniffly-nose kind of allergy, but a full-blown headache, sneezing, wheezing, sick as a kid who has eaten too much ribbon candy kind of allergy. I tried to deny it last year. We purchased a lovely tree, brought it up the elevator of the old textile mill where we live (we're only on the island for 3 more weeks, then it's back to the mill), placed it in a pretty corner of the loft, and then I went to work on the lights, stringing them ever so carefully for maximum effect. Within minutes my eyes were tearing, I was coughing and wheezing, and I knew then that that would be our last real tree.
I know I shouldn't mind. I know that I should look at this as an opportunity to create spectacular alternatives to a traditional tree each year (I'm thinking of driftwood branches with white lights and island berries this year), and I do see it as just that: an opportunity. I'll admit, though, that a piece of me--the piece that scoops up vintage ornaments at flea markets and antiques shops all year long--is feeling sorry for itself. I will fill glass bowls and apothecary jars with my treasured ornaments; they will be lovely, but I'll miss the tree, especially the scent. I went to Yankee Candle the other day thinking maybe an evergreen candle wouldn't be so bad. It was worse. Sigh.
Maybe one year I'll end up with a pink artificial tree like the ones on the Charlie Brown special. I've seen people totally rock that look. I gotta tell you, though, that is so not me.
Okay, enough whining. Tomorrow I'll scavenge some truly cool pieces of driftwood. Whatever I end up cobbling together won't be evergreen and it won't be artificial, but it will be squint-worthy.