Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christmas Trees Should Smell Good

The headline pretty much sums up my argument. But my boss would not be happy with a five-word blog post, so allow me to share a few more reasons why I'd never let an artificial Christmas tree through my front door.

I make no claims of being a Christmas tree maven, a Yiddish word meaning expert, or connoisseur (a French word meaning maven). I'm from a middle-class Jewish upbringing and I only knew Christmas trees from the homes of my non-gefilte-fish-eating buddies. I remember Jay's metallic silver contraption with the rotating multicolor floodlight. Better, but still pretty bizarre, was Terry's cut tree encrusted in robin's egg blue flocking -- but at least it smelled like a plant.

Christmas trees started appearing in my living room after moving out of my folks' place and setting up housekeeping with a girlfriend from a more Norman Rockwell upbringing. Over the years, I've refined my criteria for the perfect tree:

• Douglas Fir, because it has more space between the branches for ornaments than the Michelin Man morphology of Noble Firs.
• A strong leader to hold the cone-shaped, copper wire-haired, red pipe-cleaner winged angel my son made when he was little.
• The enlivening, fresh aroma of resinous conifer needles (overpowered for a day or two by the lingering fragrance of volatilized peanut oil, potatoes, and onions from our annual Potato Latke Gorging Night).

It's only in recent years that I've thought about where these trees come from and how they arrive in tree lots around the country. I've wondered whether cutting down live trees for a few weeks of tradition is at odds with my professed stance regarding sustainable living.

So I did a little sleuthing and, for me, I can emphatically state that real trees win the enviro-battle, hands down.

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