Don’t sneer at my fake Christmas tree, traditionalists; I was once like you. For my entire adult life I’ve celebrated the season with an authentic Frasier fir, fresh from the local lot, hauled home on top of the car and shoved through our front door all fragrant and sappy. But this year, for the first time, we will be gathering ’round a nine-foot, pre-lit evergreen that came straight out of a box. Well, two boxes actually. They were huge.
Last year was our first winter in Florida, and since I had switched cities, I was loath to abandon any other family Christmas traditions. I brought our real tree home as usual and decorated it with the treasured ornaments I’d shipped down from Chicago. But evergreens don’t fare well here in Southwest Florida—Bonita Springs is far, far away from the Northern woods. Turns out, our tree was as dry and brittle as a Carr’s Table Water cracker. Just putting on the lights made it drop a third of its needles and every day it shed a dustpan or two more. I prayed a semblance of the tree would remain on December 25th. When I finally took the poor parched thing down, I asked our building manager how to discard of the remains. He had no idea. I was the only resident in our 75-unit building who’d had a live tree. “That’s it!” I pronounced. “Next year we’re getting a fake tree.” And so we have.
I learned a few things about artificial Christmas trees shopping for this one. First of all, good quality faux trees have hefty price tags. This Balsam Hill Sanibel Spruce with it’s “spare” design cost 7-8 times what I’d pay for a fresh tree. Height, lighting and time of year all figure into the price. Also, even disassembled, this tree is a big boy. We have a storage room in our building where we can stuff it out of sight after the holidays, but if you have limited space, an artificial tree might not be practical for you. Or, to save on both space and cash, consider a 5 or 6-foot version.
I gotta say, I’m really pleased with this tree. It arrived just a few days after I placed my online order, and came with labeled pieces and clear instructions. My husband Liam assembled it in a snap. As he connected each section to the one below it, the lights instantly clicked on. It was so gratifying. After a few minutes of “fluffing” (separating the branches) it was ready to decorate. Now it’s mostly complete and it’s big, beautiful, strong, clean and—best of all—maintenance free. No watering, no mess, no droop. This tree is gonna look exactly like this for years to come. All I need is more ornaments! (And some pine fragrance spray, because I don’t miss the mess, but I do miss that festive smell.)