Friday, December 11, 2009

O (artificial) Christmas Tree

This coming Sunday is Gaudete Sunday, which in our house is nicknamed "The Sunday we get to put up the Christmas Tree."

This is the first thing we do that annoys some die-hards who insist that the tree should never, ever, ever go up before Christmas Eve (and preferably not until after Midnight Mass). The second thing is that we use an artificial tree.

I've never been all that great, from an allergy perspective, with live trees in the house. For me, it's not so much the tree itself as the various molds and pollens they collect when they're growing. We also found out that Bookgirl can't be around live pine without sneezing, watery eyes, and general misery, so we're pretty much destined to have fake trees at Christmas.

I know this is heresy, but--actually, I prefer them to live ones. I know, I know! How non-crunchy non-authentic Made-in-whoknowswhattyrannicalregime plasticky overly-commercial can you get?

It gets worse. I like them for three main reasons: one, you don't have to water them (and have all that fun involving both water and electric lights). Two, you don't have to practically bolt them to the floor to keep them from falling over. And three, even though the plastic ones shed a bit of plastic here and there, it's nothing compared to the mess of showers of tiny un-vacuumable pine needles scattering mysteriously all over the house.

How shallow is that? I like artificial Christmas trees because they're easier and less messy. Cheaper, too, in the long run. Don't anybody tell Rod Dreher, though, or he'll revoke my unofficial "Crunchy Con" membership. ;-)

We may have to shell out a little money this year. The fake tree we have now is the second we've owned (it wasn't worth moving the first one from North Carolina to Texas, and buying a pre-lit tree cut down on a lot of pre-Christmas cussing). We bought it at Montgomery Ward. Which then closed (the physical store, not the present online retailer) in 2001, which gives you an idea of how many years that tree has been stored in a Texas garage through the heat of three-quarters of the year.

When we used it last year, it was looking a little--bent. And scraggly, from being set up and put away so many times. And just a little rickety, which wasn't a problem since the girls are long past the toddler let's-all-pull-on-the-tree phase.

And this year, we have a cat, for the first time ever, so our thinking is that we need something a little smaller, a little thinner, a little easier to control once Emmett discovers the excellent scratching-post/climbing toy we've put up just for him (because when you're a cat, all celebrations are always all about you).

Naturally, having reached this conclusion we promptly forgot all about it until this week, when we realized that this Sunday was Gaudete Sunday and thus our traditional day to put up the tree and decorate it in preparation for Christmas. Luckily, our procrastination will likely pay off, as there are lots of fake trees left in our local stores and frightened retailers are slashing prices on them because they certainly don't want to be stuck with them come December 26th. So in that sense we're doing all right.

We've also decided to decorate a little more sparsely this year, to keep the china and glass ornaments off of the tree and go for a lot of paper mache or other unbreakable ornaments, instead. But I'd really like to ask all the cat owners who read this blog--what do you do with the Christmas tree? Are there any tips or hints that some novice cat owners ought to take to heart, lest they find their cat dangling by his hind legs from a tangle of lights and glittery paper snowballs?

I'm open to any suggestions you experienced cat owners might have--unless they involve buying a live tree, of course. :)


Charlotte said...

Our cats have never cared about the artificial tree we have used for a few years, nor the live one we had last year. They like to lie/sleep underneath both, thinking the trees to be real, but otherwise have never touched an ornament. Although I have to say that tinsel might be a no-no, unless you like pulling tinsel out the backside of a cat. : )

Lindsay said...

Ours is fake, but I use a lot of other green, real stuff. It really is easier in many ways, which you mentioned. We also did it because we live far from family so we wouldn't have to do without a tree the years we couldn't be around to water it. AND, our rooms are tiny, so, we got a slim tree that is a nice shape but will fit in our house. I can't imagine the stress of finding a tree just the right size for us! I won't give a litany for all the other completely crunchy things we do for the holidays, but if having a fake tree makes us UNcrunchy, well, I don't care.

Red Cardigan said...

Charlotte--good to know! And good advice about the tinsel, too. :)

Lindsay, I hear you! I think the best "crunchy" way to have a live tree would be to have one of those you can plant outside after Christmas (except we still can't have one of those in the house).

Dawn Farias said...

I suppose one good thing about converting to religion as an adult is being blissfully unaware of things like waiting until Christmas Eve to put up the tree. Of course, it could just mean that I'm doing a poor job, as a grown up, of learning my religion...

Here's my roundup: We put up our artificial tree the day after Thanksgiving and our cat could not care less.

HTH. :)

Anonymous said...

When we were first married we got a "real" tree. We also had a cat (pretty young like yours). As soon as it was up he climbed it and knocked it over. We had to tie it to the sliding door handle so it wouldn't topple over everytime he climbed it. I would come in the room and he wuld be sitting perched in the branches! It really made him crazy. When we moved pur new apartment didn't have anything to tie the tree to and every day I had to pick up the stupid tree and all the stuff. Then we got an artificial tree and he never went near it except to rub up against the needles.

We're on our second artificial tree in 20 years. We could have kept the old one but I got tired of doing the lights. Now we just put the tree together, plug it in and its set to decorate.

LarryD said...

We have an artificial tree that goes up Thanksgiving weekend...I know! I'm a heretic at heart. Whoulda thunk it??

Our cat couldn't care less about it - she'll sleep under it from time to time, but since it doesn't smell like outdoors, to her it's just an inconvenient uncomfortable piece of furniture.

Red Cardigan said...

This is encouraging! So, maybe Emmett will leave our artificial tree alone after all. Here's hoping! :)

Deirdre Mundy said...

Our cats used to steal ornaments and hide them. We compensated by putting 'cat-safe' ornaments on the lower branches. Stuffed bears, sturdy plastic, jingle bells attached to ribbons, etc. Then every few days we'd go looking for the trove and put them back on the tree.

We use a similar tactic now, with the toddlers! Because, honestly, cats and toddlers have a lot on common!

Kim said...

Not to worry about crunchiness and the fake tree...turns out they're actually MORE, uh, "green" than real trees No need to cut down a tree that way, right? And you use them for many years, thereby reducing your consumption overall.

But the greenest way to have a tree (no kidding, last Christmas I read a crunchy analysis of this whole issue) is to plant a real live evergreen in your back yard, preferably by a window of course, and just decorate that year after year. Then you don't have to kill a tree OR use something made from petrochemical by-products.

Happy Festivus!