I wrote an Out and About in Dec. 2016 about my wife, who would ask me after every Thanksgiving, if I was ready to stop buying live Christmas trees and switch to artificial for convenience sake.
And my response every year was the same:
“Are you drunk?”
This year, my beloved wife of nearly 40 years, evidently tired of watching me schlep a heavy, fresh cut tree into the living room, skipped the annual question and took matters into her own hands.
On a hot afternoon last August, without a snowflake in sight, two boxes arrived at the front door of our home. One was big, about four-feet tall and two-feet wide, and the other about half that size. Both had the word Balsam Hill printed on their sides.
Balsam Hill? Then I noticed the holiday season graphics. My curiosity quickly flipped to annoyance.
“What is that?” I asked my wife.
“Our new Christmas tree. I bought it on sale. It was 30-percent off.”
“You should have got 60. It’s August, for Chrissake.”
“Don’t worry. You’re going to love it, whether you like it or not.”
My column two years ago waxed poetic about my deep affection for pine trees that I’ve clutched to the chest since my childhood on the coast of Lake Michigan. I love the tree’s deep green needles, its earthy scent, the vagaries of its bark, and pinecones that hang like fruit. To me, pine trees exude an aesthetic no other tree does. I don’t even mind their sap that makes your fingers stick together like glue. There’s always turpentine to remedy that.
I also love all the rituals that go along with buying and trimming a fresh cut Christmas tree, usually with snow falling from a cold, December night sky.
But I also admitted in the column that I’ve been tempted in the past to buy a fake Christmas tree. The thought of no longer dragging a live, heavy tree into the house, no longer having to water it twice a day, nor having to deal with piles of dry pine needles while taking the tree down after New Year’s, held a certain appeal.
So did the thought of just simply lifting the fake tree up and placing it in a protective bag for next year. And the vacuum cleaner wouldn’t wheeze and turn blue from sucking up an endless trail of needles.
But I couldn’t and wouldn’t do it. My wife, however, thought and felt otherwise. Yet, when she bought the tree online, she obviously missed an important detail in the specifications for the 7-foot, six-inch tall faux Norway Spruce that came pre-hung with lights:
The sucker weighs close to 80 pounds.
The bigger box, I could barely move. Thankfully, the tree’s base and top half are split between the two boxes.
At the behest of my wife, the next day after Thanksgiving, I pulled the two boxes out of the garage. The bottom of the bigger, heavier box was already disintegrating from being dragged and moved several times since August. With a knife, I cut both boxes open and started to assemble the tree.
Balsam Hill’s attention to detail impressed me. Every part, every tool, every item to make assembly and storage convenient, was there and clearly labeled. The tree went together easy enough, and with the lights already pre-hung, all that was left to do was arrange the limbs and bows into shape, and hang ornaments.
But there was something else that impressed me: except for the trunk and limb connections, the tree’s plastic needles and outer branches look, and almost feel, like the real thing. They just don’t smell like the real thing, which is one of my hang-ups about artificial trees. No lovely Christmas tree pine scent wafting through the house is no Christmas at all, I say.
But wait. Balsam Hill, in its quest to handle every detail with style and verve, offers a “Scent of the Season Fragrance Machine” with a line of scented oil cartridges. There’s also fresh pine cones, scented sticks, candles and incense, too.
I doubt any of those means will satisfy my need to have a life-like pine scent in our home, but I guess now, I’ll have to give one of them — like the faux tree itself — a try. Maybe in another two years, I’ll let you know how it goes.
It’s only a few days until Christmas, and I find myself often staring at the artificial Christmas tree that stands in the corner of the living room. Each limb, bow and branch hangs perfectly, without a gaping hole to break the tree’s symmetry. And I must say, the lights, and the way in which my wife adorned the tree with ornaments, makes it look even closer to the real deal.
When the boxes arrived five months ago, my wife told me, “Don’t worry. You’re going to love it, whether you like it or not.” I certainly don’t love it and I know I never will. But like it?
I’ll give it some time, and Merry Christmas to all.