01 December 2006

The Christmas Tree....A Study In Engineering And Cost...

Anyone recall when a Christmas tree was ...well, a TREE? You know....the old trot on down to the local corner lot where some half-frozen guy was eeking out a holiday living by selling REAL TREES (used to be about $5 for a 6 ft one way back when). And you and Dad would drag the dang thing home (usually on a sled because it always seemed to snow ON the day YOU went for a tree). Then there were the "tree farms" where you could CUT YER OWN....(yes, pine needles WILL scratch a paint job, btw).

Recently, I was strolling through some big-box stores, and when I got to the Christmas area...a veritable FOREST of artificial trees blinked longingly back at me. And these weren't just the plain old plastic needle ones that YOU had to assemble and light up yourself...oh, no. These were all PRE-LIT with LED lights...in various colors, such as an ALL-PURPLE lit tree.

Of course anyone MY age will recall those horrendous SILVER FOIL trees (that mom added the COLOR WHEEL to, so it would change hues every 5 seconds)...in retrospect...totally hideous! And the static electricity coming off that tree could light the whole HOUSE for a month! I know our dog HATED going near it...(ZZZAAAPPP!)...! Now granted...at my age (54) anything that will save me both time AND angst would only go to serve me well. Take the "Chirstmas light gremlins" who every year, after you've CHECKED to make sure ALL the lights work BEFORE putting them away until NEXT year, seem to screw with those lights and make them inoperable. Happens every damn year. A perfectly good set of bulbs 11 months earlier now do NOT work...and they've not been touched since 11 months ago. Go figure.

But now, all you have to do is take the tree out, spread the branches a bit, and plug it the heck IN....simple, huh? Well, they DO cost a lot more (base models start at around $70...geez, sounds like I'm describing a damn CAR now). But the result seems pretty clear...they look DAMN nice, and the LEDs use a helluva lot less electricity that the standard minibulbs, and won't shatter if you step on them (always fun when THAT happens...NOT).

Still, there is something to be said for the "traditional" aspect of putting up a REAL tree...and trimming it out proper with the family. They DO have just the LED bulb sets, and that's going to take a LOT of hassle out of OUR yearly tryst of tree-trimming. But I suppose that the pine scent really makes the holiday season. And a REAL tree gives you just that. Let's face it...artificial trees give off nothing but non-flammable scents, and none of them are PINE. Yeah, you could do it up like the trailerpark folks and buy a CAN of PINE SCENT, spray it on everything, then sneeze your butt off for an hour because of the aerosol propellant...! Or you can do the "60s" gig and burn PINE-SCENTED INCENSE....way cool, man....(all I need is some Hendrix and a black light...LOL).
So there ARE more choices at Christmas when it comes to tree selection....all you have to do is pick, the height, the type, the price, and the color.

Happy Hunting


JR said...

I tried the old fashioned real tree stint the first year my ex and I were separated. I found out the hard way there really are some things a man is good for.....sawing...straightening the tree, etc. Sigh. It was a nightmare.

I have always opted for two fresh wreaths, one on the front door and one over the fireplace, along with some greenery on the mantle...brings the aroma of a tree with a lot less hassle.

B.G. (Semper Paratus) said...

Now THERE 'ya go....!!!
...and the whole "tree thing" isn't all that hard...'ya just need a couple pointers, that's all. Be glad to assist in any way possible...just let me know, K?

BTW...you CAN get pre-lit WREATHS as well (with fiber optics OR LEDs).

We like a nice centerpiece for the dining room table...fresh pine "twigs" with cones...and a red candle for the middle of it all.

But it's not the season without that hint of PINE about the place...

(And I come from PHILLY...the only "pine" we saw was our TREE..rest of the year, it was either in the can OR outside the city limits...lol)


Jana said...

I remember when I was little, every year at my father's parents' house, they would go out in the woods on my grandparents' property and find a tree. It always smelled SO good and to us kids, it was fun making sure the water in the tree stand was always full.

Putting on the lights was for the adults, but as we got older we got to help too.

Now, my grandparents' have an artificial tree. One of the high-quality kind (somewhere in the range of $300 per tree). Not the same without them going out and cutting one down on the property, but the feeling of childhood is still there.

Only bad thing is having to sit and go through all the lightbulbs. My father thinks that you can NEVER have too many lights on a tree. I think one year we had 300+ lights on the tree...

Now-a-days, we always put blue lights on the tree because my grandfather loves them. It's so sweet to see him walk in the door, see the tree, and go "That tree is pretty, ain't it?"


JR said...


Thanks for the offer of giving me some pointers - I am the definition of stubborn. Totally independent and have an extremely hard time asking anyone for help. Sometimes its to my own despair...stubborness is probably not a real good quality in a person. hehehe... And the flip side of that is I get totally irked at anyone who will not let me help them - if I have the ability to do so.

Even during this recouperation time that I am going through I have managed to get both trees up and the stairway decorated. And I did have to have my kids carry the boxes for me...but if they would not have I would have just brought everything out piece by piece!

Where there is a will there is always a way! But it does look a lot like Christmas around my house.

B.G. (Semper Paratus) said...

When you look up the word STUBBORN in MY dictionary....there's a picture of ME alongside the definition....!

You're in good company, Hon...LOL!

Like I say...Advice is free, so the price IS right, and if you don't want it, you don't have to take it.

Gawd, I wish the REST of life was so simplistic as that...LMAO!