He Says/She Says: Christmas Trees

He Says/She Says: Christmas Trees

In the He Says/She Says series, we discuss financial-ish topics where we agree to disagree… whatever that means.

There are many moments of history I wish I had witnessed. The Gettysburg Address and Berlin Wall’s demise would have been kinda cool. But I really wish that I had been a fly on the wall at the precise moments when our strange, longstanding traditions began…

Hey, Bartholomew. You know those trees that spring forth from the Earth? The green ones that smell strange and shed small sharp needles that could pierce an eyeball? Let us go into the forest, snap one with our rudimentary and dull tools, carry it back two miles whilst it drips sticky residue on us, and then place it inside our abode. We will then place fire sticks on the limbs and enjoy its imposing presence in the corner of our hut until it turns brown or spontaneously combusts and burns our home to the ground — whichever strikes first.

As I type this, I’m staring at a six-foot plastic tree that’s just hanging out in the corner of our living room. Like it’s normal and fits in. Our cat, Persie, knows it’s weird, which should be pretty incriminating in and of itself. Nevertheless, the Christmas season cannot begin without a tree taking up temporary residence in our living room.

I love Christmas. And I love Christmas trees. They’re weird, but they’re fun and nostalgic and cheerful. Christmas trees are as vital to my Christmases as the annual viewing of Christmas Vacation and Home Alone. On this point, Joanna and I agree 100% — the big leafy thing in the corner stays.

Growing up, my family bought real trees until I was 11 or 12 years old. The year we bought and converted to fake trees, my parents told us that they watched a Rescue 911 (does anyone remember that show?!) where a family died or nearly died from a house fire caused by their Christmas tree. And thus began a new era of tradition. While I remember missing our family of seven cramming into the minivan, going to some kinda shady parking lot where a guy was selling trees from his Winnebago, and picking the least lopsided tree, it really didn’t bother me that our new tree lived in a box in our attic year round.

Joanna, on the other hand, comes from a family of real-tree folk. If it ain’t real, it ain’t Christmas. Joanna recalls fondly traveling as a family to a Christmas tree farm (which is a completely foreign concept to my Los Angeles upbringing), sipping hot chocolate, and making a perfect tree selection in a sea of pine aromas — this paragraph is starting to read like a Martha Stewart script.

Those tightly held traditions rear their ugly heads every year the day after Thanksgiving. Lucky for us, we were too poor, too cheap, and living in apartments wayyy too small to upgrade the 3-ft plastic tree we bought our first Christmas. But with a child in the home, a more normal apartment size, and a little extra money to budget for a tree, we battled over tree supremacy. I rallied safety and cost savings in the long run, Joanna championed tradition and authenticity. But in the end, a great deal on a pre-lit artificial tree at Walmart was just too much for Joanna to resist.

And so — for now — we’re a fake tree family. For those who celebrate Christmas, are you on Team Plastic or Team Wood? State your case, and then prepared to be ridiculed by Joanna or me if you’re on the wrong side.

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  • Reply Sabrina December 11, 2013 at 7:28 am

    Oooh, this is tough. Team Plastic is a better option financially since you can use it year after year and it’s more convenient since you don’t have to make the time to go out and get one, lug it home and try to get it standing upright and straight in the stand.

    But Team Wood brings a sense of the Christmas spirit that pulling a fake tree from storage doesn’t bring. And it smells so much better than the fake ones.

    While we have a fake tree, I have tried to convince my husband to go the real tree route but he says the cost too much, he doesn’t want to water it and it hates vaccuum all the needles up twice a day. But as girl who has an uncle who owns his own Christmas tree farm (a real one where you get to pick your tree and cut it down yourself) I’m more on the Team Wood side.

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 2:28 am

      I’d probably feel likewise if I had an uncle with a Christmas tree farm, too. Cutting my own tree down would be a game changer. Sure, I’d have to grow a beard and probably buy a pair of overalls or something, but that would swing me over to the Team Wood side in a heartbeat.

      • Reply Sabrina December 13, 2013 at 7:45 am

        A beard and overalls? HAHAHA!!! My uncle definitely has a beard and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had some overalls. 😉

  • Reply Emory L. December 11, 2013 at 8:09 am

    My family did real trees growing up until my sister suddenly became allergic. Bummer! There was a cool nursery (the plant kind) where we would pick out a Christmas tree and drive it home tied on top of the car. Now my husband and I live in a small cramped apartment and couldn’t get a real tree in it if we tried, so unfortunately we are on team plastic, but I kind of hope one day to be on team Real Tree again.

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 2:31 am

      Major bummer! I could see us making the switch, but it likely won’t be because it makes financial sense. It will be because Joanna will pull the kid(s) aside and tell them how special real trees were when she was a kid. And then one by one, they’ll beg me to grow a heart and stop the artificial tradition. But until that day, plastic it is.

  • Reply Ray Ray December 11, 2013 at 8:19 am

    We’ve had to compromise on this one for sure! (Compromise…. in marriage? Ugh! ;)) I grew up with fake trees and my husband had a similar story to Johnny. We would both love real trees, honestly, but I prefer to have it decorated the week before Thanksgiving (I know, I know! Don’t be a hater!) and a real tree just won’t last that long… and they don’t normally sell them that early. So for now, it’s a fake tree, but when we buy our own home we will have a tree in every room and one will absolutely be real 🙂

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 2:38 am

      There’d be some major hater-ade flowing around these parts if our tree went up before Thanksgiving. Don’t get me wrong — Christmas rocks. But for every holiday, there is a season. And Christmas preparations don’t start until the turkey has begun its journey down my digestive track.

      You definitely get points for being festive, though. 🙂

  • Reply Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial December 11, 2013 at 8:40 am

    This post reminded me of a Jim Gaffigan bit.. he talks about some of our holiday traditions make absolutely no sense when you really think about it, like how going outside, finding a tree to cut down and then bring in to our living rooms “sounds like the behavior of a drunk man.”

    We do like real trees. But we also like the fact that we’ve had our little scraggly fake tree since we first moved in together. We lived in a small apartment then, so we got one of the little pre-lit ones – it’s about 5 feet tall. It was paid for once (and it was cheap, which explains the sad scraggly-ness), it goes up and down really quickly, and it doesn’t make a mess. It has a sort of Charlie Brown Christmas Tree charm and surprisingly I’ve grown pretty attached to it.

    • Reply EcoCatLady December 11, 2013 at 2:58 pm

      OK… just a shout out for Jim Gaffigan… I’m a HUGE fan. “I’d kinda like to go to the store… but then I’d have to put on pants…” The man just kills me.

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 2:44 am

      Hahaha. I just had to go back and rewatch that bit. So, so good.

      We’ve got our own Charlie Brown tree, and it now resides in our kitchen. It’s basically become our cat’s tree, which is fine as long as she doesn’t attack the new one. But your point is spot on — pay for it once, put it in a box, and store it until next year. Easy peasy and pretty cost effective.

  • Reply Becky @ RunFunDone December 11, 2013 at 9:15 am

    I’m team plastic…sort of. I grew up with a plastic tree, and we have a plastic tree now. I feel like they’re less wasteful and more convenient. But, since our state (WA) is overrun with evergreens, you can get a permit for $10 to go cut down your own Xmas tree…in the real forest! That sounds kind of fun. And not very expensive. Plus, my husband would really prefer a real tree. This year, we’re sticking with plastic because we just moved to a new home and don’t have time to go get a real one, but I think next year we might get a real one. We’ll see!

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 2:48 am

      I think your man card is immediately revoked if you don’t cut down your own tree for just $10. That’s amazing! You could cut down 10 trees over 10 years and still be running cheaper than most low-end artificial trees. WA just got a lot cooler in my book.

  • Reply Heather December 11, 2013 at 9:20 am

    I’m firmly in neither! We had a real one growing up, but when we got a bit older, my mom switched to fake. And we didn’t die. My partner and I just got a fake tree this year – our first tree together.

    Real are nice, but fake ones also look nice, are easier, are cheaper in the long run and you don’t have to water them! But, they also create non-biodegradable waste, which I’m also against. So…I don’t know!

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 2:54 am

      Decisions, decisions. And the biodegradable waste thing is a shame. It’s too bad there isn’t a recycled artificial tree forest somewhere where you can send your old, battered plastic tree off to live out the remainder of its life. There’s gotta be some contemporary artist out there that would be excited to take on a project like this, right?

  • Reply Renee s December 11, 2013 at 9:32 am

    I’m Jewish and do not have a tree preference, BUT I must say that I really, *really* loved Rescue 911 when I was little. 🙂 I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who watched it!

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 2:58 am

      Joanna had never seen Rescue 911 before, and neither had a few other people I polled while I was writing this post. I started thinking I had made the whole show up in my brain. But I was relieved and thrilled to find the Rescue 911 intro on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHXc9lhMcKg). It’s incredible how I immediately remembered every note of the song and the video clips they featured.

      Also, is there any debate in the Jewish community over real-candle menorahs or electric menorahs? I used to go to every Jewish holiday party at my best friend’s house when I was younger, and I remember thinking the electric menorah was a little lackluster.

  • Reply Tarynkay December 11, 2013 at 9:38 am

    We buy real trees for two reasons:

    1) We live in a state in which Christmas tree farms are an important part of the economy, so I like to support that. I buy the expensive Chapstick they make here, too. I am a sucker for local industry.

    2) We buy our free from an addiction recovery ministry every year and it is nice to be able to support them as well.

    If we lived someplace that didn’t grow Christmas trees, I would buy a plastic one, sure. When we lived in FL and southern CA, Christmas trees were ridiculously expensive b.c they have to ship them across the country.

    We do have a tiny three foot tree way up high this year- it just seemed easier than our two year old spending the month of December in time-out for trying to climb it. He loved helping decorate it and asks me to make it “more pretty” every morning, which means plug the lights in.

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 3:02 am

      1. That’s a worthwhile cause. Good on you.
      2. That’s another worthwhile cause. When I was in high school, I used to volunteer at the YMCA lot for some club or sports team… can’t remember why exactly. But hopefully it was for a good cause and they weren’t just getting free child labor. 🙂

      “Make it more pretty” is awesome. High-five to that guy.

  • Reply Jodi T. December 11, 2013 at 9:40 am

    When I was little, we didn’t have a lot of money or space, so we had a 5′ Christmas tree up on the bar between our kitchen and living room. It looked huge and amazing and I loved every fake needle. When I was a teenager, my mom started the tradition of buying a real tree. I liked the smell and the look at first… Then that pine scent kind of overwhelmed everything and the needles. MAN… those little stickers HURT. Anywho. Now that I’m and old and wise 30 something with a brood of my own, we stick with a pre-lit fake tree. It was not cheap, but it’s been a good and reliable one. We bought it the year my son was born (2005) and ((nearly)) every light still works! One thing I can say is that I’m a little tired of a white tree. I guess that’ll make me appreciate a different one when the time comes.


    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 3:08 am

      That’s awesome to hear that it has withstood the test of time so well. That was actually my biggest concern with buying ours was how long it would still look tree-y before becoming a heap of fake plastic mess. One of the caveats to buying it was that we wouldn’t buy a new one (real or fake) until we absolutely had to.

      Merry Christmas to you, too!

  • Reply Michelle's Finance Journal December 11, 2013 at 9:48 am

    I buy, I mean I use second had free plastic Christmas tree. It’s cheap, reusable, and easy to bring home. Maybe it’s because I never had a real one that I don’t really care much for it, but it is what it is. I’m not against a real tree or anything though. Maybe once we buy a house of our own, we’ll try the real thing and see if we like it.

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 3:09 am

      Can’t go wrong with free. I think a real tree will be worth trying at least one year. But it will be after our fake one ceases to function or starts looking like a leafy dragon instead of a tree.

  • Reply Brian December 11, 2013 at 10:24 am

    We have a fake tree. I kill enough plants by accident through out the year, I don’t feel the need to purposely kill another one (and no this isn’t a earth child hippie thing). I don’t have a problem with real trees, they just aren’t for me.

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 3:10 am

      Fair enough, plant-killing hippie. 🙂 I support your choice.

  • Reply Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies December 11, 2013 at 10:44 am

    I grew up with plastic and insist on real every year now. Mr PoP grew up with real and couldn’t care less, so I win. Yay! It’s just one of those $40 luxuries that feels incredibly special every year.

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 3:12 am

      If Joanna was a little more adamant about real, I’d probably cave, too. Because outside of cost-savings, I really don’t care much. But if our kids raise a stink about wanting one, then we’ll probably incur the $40 luxury tax, too. 🙂

  • Reply Emily December 11, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Wow. I have to say I was really surprised by all the team plastics. Maybe it’s because I live in Wisconsin, but it is team wood all the way, every year. I can see where it would make more sense for some to have fake though.

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 3:14 am

      You mean you were surprised by how many people chose the RIGHT answer? 🙂 I think WI has a big part to do with it. Isn’t everyone basically a lumberjack at birth out there? Wisconsin is still one of my favorite OFB 50 States Project breakdowns we’ve done so far.

      • Reply Emily December 13, 2013 at 9:23 am

        Yes. We have our kids swinging axes as soon as they can walk. Flannel shirts under puffy vests at all ages. The furry bomber hat and everything! It’s our standard dress code. 😉

  • Reply Miranda December 11, 2013 at 10:58 am

    We have historically been fake tree people (and grew up with fake one), but this year we converted to the real thing. It smells good but I could do without all the shedding and one of our dogs already marked it. Thought you guys might enjoy a little Christmas Tree History lesson.


    Cliff’s Notes: Ancient people used to decorate with evergreens and other plants that stayed green all year to symbolize hope/prosperity/life etc. Then the Germans and Martin Luther made it a thing and brought it over to the U.S. and people were all like, “Whoa dude, ’tis a Pagan Tradition. Christmas shall not be mocked. We ain’t down yo.” And then much like our current society today, all it took was one celebrity to make putting a dying plant in the corner of your house a hot new trend. This particular celeb was Queen Victoria. All she had to do was pose for a sketch in front of one for what sounds like the 19th century equivalent of a holiday card photo and suddenly the masses were all like, “OMG we NEED a tree for Christmas. Look, QVic has one. She’s like, so chic.”

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 3:17 am

      No thanks on the shedding. And I don’t remember it growing up, but our cat-owner friends have mentioned their cats climbing real trees and sleeping in them. Which seems weird and not safe.

      Thank you for the history lesson. I thought my interpretation was pretty spot on, but I guess I was just a little bit off. But not much. Also, why didn’t you write all my school history books? I would have learned like a champion!

  • Reply Alice @ Earning My Two Cents December 11, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Team Wood! We have always had a real Christmas tree. You just can’t beat that smell, the feel of the pine needles, all that sappy goodness. As a kid I would light up the tree and sit next to it and read for hours. I love Christmas trees! My husband and I haven’t bought a tree for a few years because we figure it’s not worth the expense because we always spend Christmas back home with our families and my folks always have a real tree so I can get my fix then. And yes, I still light it up and smile 🙂

    Oh, here’s some history on why we chop down trees and put them in our houses to decorate with baubles and lights: http://www.history.com/topics/history-of-christmas-trees

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 3:26 am

      It is a fun, magical tradition. And I do think the real tree adds just a smidgen more of it. But the real question is whether that smidgen is worth $40 or more every year.

  • Reply Julie December 11, 2013 at 11:14 am

    We were in the same battle a few years ago. Spoiler alert: I won.

    I grew up in a real tree house. Hubby was a faker. They blame it on his brother’s allergies. When we first moved in together, we had a small apartment, and an hand-me-down artificial. It was fine for that year, but when we moved into a townhouse with more space the next year, I pulled the whole “It’s my tree year!” and dragged Hubster to a local tree farm. Though he wasn’t sure about it at first, and grumbled that the branches couldn’t be bent to the proper angle to hold his ornaments, over the years he’s grown to love the tradition (and the scent), too, and even thanked me for introducing him to it and keeping up with it even through his grumbling.

    From the eco-side, you’re supporting local industry with a real tree, and even though it’s ultimately getting cut down, it’s still providing valuable air scrubbing in the years it’s growing, and you can recycle it at the end. (http://livinggreenmag.com/2013/12/09/home-garden/the-great-annual-christmas-tree-debate-real-vs-artificial-aka-fake/) AND, you don’t have to store it somewhere the other 10-11 months of the year.

    An insider secret — concolor firs make the best Christmas trees, in my opinion. The needles are relatively blunt so they’re not too sharp, and they last forever. We get our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, and have had it up until the beginning of February before (did I mention Hubby’s a Christmas nut?!). Now that our daughter’s birthday is at the end of January, I insist the tree is down before her party, but that means we still get about 2 months of life out of the sucker. Only once did we have catastrophic needle droppage, but it happened early on, so it was a fluke tree. Concolors are less popular and harder to come by (at least here in NY), but if you can find them, they’re well worth it.

    Sorry for the dissertation, but I am firmly on Team Wood!

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 3:30 am

      Loved the dissertation! Some great info in there! I Google image searched the concolor fir and I’m almost positive we had that breed (?) a couple years. The needles were much more bunched and blunt like you mentioned. And I never remember them browning. But I also never remember keeping it up past New Year’s Day. 🙂

  • Reply Danny C. December 11, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    Real trees are not getting a fair shake here. I get mine for $20 at Home Depot. My sister got a Black Friday pre-lit tree special for $80 a some years ago and said once she hits year 5, I’ll look like a sucker. Fast forward 3 years and one of the sections of their tree stopped working and they’re out looking for another one.

    This year I thought I could save money by finding a fake tree on Craigslist. 80% of the pre-lit ones say, “There is one section that doesn’t light but….”. So I was going to go for a non-lit tree, but then you’ve got to store that sucker. So I don’t think the simple pay-off calculation works in this scenario.

    Bottom line: I pay $20, we get the real tree experience, then I get to throw it out and it’s not part of my life until next year.

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 3:34 am

      If I could find a real tree for $20 around the same size of our current artificial tree, I’d definitely spring for real. When we looked at Home Depot a few weeks ago, they started around $40 or $50 for a decent size tree (6-ft). I was worried about the pre-lit trees and individual light shorts ruining the rest of the section, but the tree we bought claims to not do that. Time will tell if our investment pays off or if we suffer the same fate as your sister.

  • Reply Maureen December 11, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE real Christmas trees, but my allergies act up when I am around one for too long, AND we got a $200 artificial tree for $50 after Christmas a few years back. So every Christmas, we load up in the truck with our hot chocolate, drive 2 miles to the storage shed, pick our tree up and bring it back home, singing Christmas carols the whole time. 🙂

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 3:34 am

      Haha. That’s the best artificial tree tradition ever! That’s seriously awesome.

  • Reply Erin @ Red Debted Stepchild December 11, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Team Wood, all the way!

    When I was younger, my dad and I would go to a Christmas tree farm and I’d pick out the best tree while sipping on apple cider and eating cookies. Then, we’d go home and I’d listen to Dad curse under his breath while getting the tree upright by himself. He’d put lights on it and we’d watch Elf while putting on the ornaments.

    The experience of buying and putting up a real tree is just better. Plus the smell of a real tree can’t be beat 🙂

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 3:42 am

      That sounds like an awesome tradition. Even our sorta lame traditions in 70-degree winter hear in Southern California wasn’t the most festive thing, it was still a blast being with family and choosing a tree together. And you’re right, no fake pine smell can match the real deal. In fact, the fake stuff usually just smells like a toilet disinfectant, which is a lousy Christmas smell.

  • Reply EcoCatLady December 11, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Oh my! Well, I remember distinctly the last time we had a real tree. I was about 6 years old, and we had just gotten a cat. She was thrilled that we had installed a real live climbing tree in the living room just for her, complete with dangling toys and everything! After she’d felled the thing for the 5th or 6th time my mother gave up and went out to buy a fake one. Of course, Samantha (the cat) also destroyed all of the beautiful handmade silk ornaments that my grandmother had crafted over the years… Mom packed what was left of them in a box and swore us to secrecy so Grandma’s feelings wouldn’t be hurt.

    I’ve never actually been brave enough to have a tree as an adult… it’s just seemed like I’d be tempting fate what with 4 cats and all. Of course, if you want to take the debate to a new level you could try to figure out which variety is better/worse for the environment. Between plastic and pesticides, I’d say it’s a wash. For the moment I think I’ll just continue to be a Scrooge… or maybe I’ll decorate one of the cats this year. 🙂

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 3:44 am

      Hahah. Decorating one of the cats wasn’t an option in this debate, but I now regret that it wasn’t included. 🙂

      The cat tree idea with the real tree seems like it’d be sorta fun and funny the first two times. And then I’d be ready to murder our cat. She’s already batted off all of our wood ornaments a couple dozen times over the years, so I’m glad to know that other cats are purposefully that destructive. 🙂

  • Reply Meghan December 11, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    I bought a real one this year because I have no storage space for a fake tree, but I am allergic to the darn thing. I’ll have to figure out where to store a fake one next year. I may even pick it up during an post-Christmas tree clear out sale. I just wish that trees came in nice, sturdy, easily-stack-able Rubbermaid containers instead of boxes or bags.

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 3:46 am

      You’re the third or fourth person to mention allergies now. I had no idea that was even a thing. That would be terrible.

      You should definitely hold off on buying now until after the holiday. I’m sure you’ll find a great deal. And your Rubbermaid suggestion is genius. I already hate our tree box and I haven’t even put the tree back in for the first time yet.

      • Reply Meghan December 15, 2013 at 11:37 pm

        I feel like it’s okay now! The first couple of days were rough. I mean, I do have some sinus issues that aren’t going away but I don’t know that I can blame that on the tree. If they suddenly get better on 12/26, then maybe that’s it. And yeah, I am going to search online for a tree that fits in to one or two boxes (usually the poles are too long – yes I have tried before). Those cardboard boxes are a joke. Plus, they are not sealed so if you store the tree in a shed, they are the perfect nesting place for rodents. I know this because I have a memory of being 4 or 5 and my Mom going to get the tree, only to find out that it was no longer our tree. Big bummer. Only on the flip side, we got a brand new flocked tree that day so all was not lost.
        Got the bag for a 9′ huge tree that I had for my house too, but it was so hard to carry it, that I donated the bag when I donated the tree. I don’t recommend those.

        Merry Christmas to you, Joanna, and Baby Girl!

  • Reply Rob December 11, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    I’m with Team Plastic, dude. Not only don’t I have to regularly water it but neither does the dog (that is, if I ever had one)! 🙂

    In fact, even my old man (and mom) used to own an artificial tree. While he was alive, my dad used to spend hours decorating that scrawny excuse for a tree in the home where I lived. In fact, as the years passed (and he got too lazy for this chore), after the holidays my dad used to cover the whole tree (along with its still attached decorations) with a big cloth sheet and drag it all down to the basement. The next year he’d then drag the whole thing back upstairs, carefully remove the sheet, and – ta da! – he was good to go. Now what do you think about that? Bah Humbug !!! 🙂

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 3:50 am

      Haha. I like your thinking, Rob. And that’s one smart system your dad had with the sheet. Life’s too short to constantly be repeating labor like taking off ornaments and putting the tree in a box. Joanna might see it all as “bag humbug,” but I’m pretty OK with it. Not that that’s all that surprising. 🙂

  • Reply Michelle December 11, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    We are team plastic. I love real trees but our dogs like to eat them!

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 3:51 am

      That seems really weird to me. But I know our cat would try to eat it, too, among other dumb things.

  • Reply Diane December 11, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Team WOOD! Team WOOD! Team WOOD! So sorry Johnny, but you are just totally WRONG this time~ Score one for Joanna!! A real, fresh, awesome smelling tree is essential to childhood memories! Next year you MUST have one, for the sake of baby girl’s emotional well-being~ (guilt trip!!)

    Your family may have mistakenly converted to Team Plastic, but even you admit to good memories of having real trees during early childhood. Yes, real trees can be messy, but that’s part of the joy of the season!

    I don’t buy that fire hazard stuff. If you get a fresh tree, make a fresh cut on the bottom, put it immediately in water and fill the water every night it will be fine. Just don’t have a heater blowing on it. We close the vent nearest the tree when we bring it in. Of course you won’t leave the lights on when you leave the house or go to bed, so no worries.

    We put our tree up right after Thanksgiving and leave it up until at least January 6th (Kings Day tradition) and we’ve never had a problem as long as we keep it watered. BTW, we always go with Frasier firs… the needles are soft & they stay very fresh compared t the spruces we had as kids.

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 3:57 am

      Guilt trip is right! All of that sounds like a lot more work (and money in the long run), BUT you’ve made some good points. And I definitely want Christmases in our household to be full of tradition. We’ll give it a shot sometime in the next couple years when our little one has a better understanding of what in the world is going on.

      Great tips and suggestions, too. Thanks!

  • Reply Carla December 11, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Fake fake fake, fakety fakefakefake. I hate having a real tree, probably a little unreasonably so. (It probably doesn’t help that I’m always the one cleaning up the needles afterwards.) They’re messy, bring bugs in, can be a literal pain to decorate if you don’t shell out for one of the soft ones, need watered so they don’t burn your house down (I’m really paranoid about this), and are a nightmare to get out. There are probably still pine needles in my old house from last year’s tree. Ugh.

    Fake trees are fun to assemble if you get the ones with the removable branches, can be pre-lit, and seem less prone to suddenly wanting to fall over. If you get one on clearance after Christmas, they’re a steal, too! (Also, can be purchased with fire repellent on them….)

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 3:59 am

      Carla knows what’s up! I really wanted to wait to snag one AFTER Christmas, but then we would have been forced to reuse our 6-year-old 3-footer.

      Chalk up a point or five for Team Fake!

  • Reply Courtney December 11, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    I am 100% on Team Wood but the real reason I am commenting is to say I LOVED RESCUE 911! Classic childhood memories right there.

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 4:02 am

      I’ll forgive you for being on Team Wood since you’re a fellow Rescue 911 fan. If memory served me right, a lot of those episodes were also terrifying. I swear I still have certain episodes/calls seared into my brain. It was like a more realistic Unsolved Mysteries, which was my all time favorite TV series.

  • Reply E.M. December 11, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Fake tree, because I am allergic to the actual ones. My parents kept wondering why I would get sick around the holidays, and my doctor figured it out when I was about 5. Ever since that diagnosis, we’ve had a fake tree. This year, my grandma is letting us borrow a 3′ fiber optic tree she purchased, since our apartment is also way too small for anything bigger. I do think there’s joy in going out and picking the real tree, but the maintenance is a pain, and I’m sure my two cats would wreak havoc on it. Plus you dispose of it year after year; I’d rather pay once for a tree that will last 10+ years.

    • Reply Johnny December 13, 2013 at 4:04 am

      Pine allergies must be fairly common given the number of similar responses I’ve read on here. I’m with you on your rationale. I would never want to risk it with my cat. I always imagine that she would basically recreate the cat scene in Christmas Vacation. And nobody wants that. Not even Persie.

  • Reply Nic December 11, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    I grew up with an artificial tree, and liked it. We always had plenty of Christmas spirit, so I don’t buy into the belief that it’s not really Christmas unless you chop down a tree. Frankly, I never understood the reasoning of killing so many trees and then throwing them away a month later. It’s wasteful, and seeing a dead tree makes me sad.

    I live in an apartment building where real trees are not allowed, (fire hazard) and space is at a premium, so I have a small artificial table tree. It works for me and I don’t have to water it. 🙂

    • Reply Johnny December 17, 2013 at 1:32 am

      Amen and amen.

      I don’t know how small your apartment is, but if it’s anything like the last two we lived in, a real tree would take up half of our family room. Our little fake tree did us proud the last six years.

  • Reply sharon December 11, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Did the whole ‘real’ tree thing for many years. The real trees were a real pain with falling needles, watering, etc. One year our tree fell over three times. Three years ago we got smart and bought a pre-lit tree from BJ’s for about $100.00. It’s paid for itself the first year since we used to spend about $100 for a real tree. We do miss the pine scent, so we buy real wreaths and hang them on the kitchen windows. We’ve been very happy with our ‘fake’ tree!

    • Reply Johnny December 17, 2013 at 1:35 am

      Real wreaths! Now that’s a great compromise. I do get a heavy dose of nostalgia when I get a whiff of pine scent near a tree lot, so that’d be a nice, cheap fix. Pine isn’t a narcotic, right?

  • Reply Jennifer @ Budgeting in Baby December 12, 2013 at 11:27 am

    There has only been one real tree ever in my lifetime at my house. It was my parents’ first Christmas together. My Mom (aka Step Mom) used to have real trees all the time. My Dad and Mom haven’t had a real tree in the 13 years since. My Mother (aka my bio mom) has only had plastic trees.
    Now that I am a grown up, I continued with the plastic tree tradition. It seems really financially unwise to spend each year on a real tree what I could spend on one tree. Then again my tree is 3 feet tall and cost me less than $20 (again I couldn’t see the need to spend more when the only person who would see it was me- that was my mentality two years ago when I bought my tree).

    • Reply Johnny December 17, 2013 at 1:41 am

      We think alike. We spent $20 or $30 on our little guy (the tree) and celebrated solo the last two or three years. We finally upgraded this year and based that decision almost solely on cost and savings. Mind usually rules heart in this household. 🙂

  • Reply Newlyweds on a Budget December 12, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    I was adamantly against fake trees until I decorated my mom’s tree one year and didn’t know it was fake until we were done decorating it. So I’ve changed. for now, we have a real one, but when we buy our own place, I hope to invest in a nice fake one with the pre-lit lights. I live in LA too, so shopping for a tree is just going to your local Home Depot

    • Reply Johnny December 17, 2013 at 1:43 am

      LA Christmas tree shopping in 70-degree weather… pretty lackluster, eh? It was always a fun outing for us, but having lived in snowy, cold climates the last ten years or so, I understand the appeal of more outdoorsy traditions.

  • Reply Kasey @ Debt Perception December 14, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    As a kid, my parents used to get real trees, but by the time I was 12 or so, my dad bought a plastic one. When he moved in with his girlfriend, the tree was lonely in storage so I took it with me to college. It was left back in WI when I moved to VA and my husband and I have gone over two years without a tree. I’m totally fine with being on team no tree. But my mom bought us a 4 foot tree this year, with cheap dollar store lights and ornaments…bah humbug, forcing me back into the holiday spirit.

    • Reply Johnny December 17, 2013 at 1:46 am

      Haha. Go mom! We were able to snag a bunch of cheap ornaments at Michael’s on Black Friday, otherwise we’d have a barren tree. Glad to hear you’ve been forcefully exiled from Team No Tree. 🙂

  • Reply Cait December 15, 2013 at 9:31 am

    My family has always had real trees, and probably always will. And thank goodness, because Joanna is right – if it ain’t real, it ain’t Christmas!

    • Reply Johnny December 17, 2013 at 1:49 am

      Joanna will get her real tree at some point. Probably as soon as she buys me an ax (hint hint). In the meantime, we’ll just have to celebrate our fake Christmases with our fake tree. 🙂

  • Reply Carlee March 8, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    I just found your website (via the NYC post), so I realize I am well past the timing for this post. But I feel that it is worth mentioning: If you’re arguement is that you are concerned about safety, then you should know that the plastic trees often leave lead dust in our homes. Yup, that’s right, I said it. Lead. Dust. Something to keep in mind for next Christmas season and with a baby around too. Have you thought of getting a potted tree? We bought a 3.5-4 foot potted pine and set it up on top of our wooden hope chest for extra height. It cost us about $30, but we can keep it every year (save on money), and we don’t have to worry about our dog keeling over from the lead dust and other plastic toxins (saftey). It’s win-win!

    • Reply Joanna March 10, 2014 at 1:01 am

      Thanks for the tip, Carlee! We’ll have to look into that come next Christmas season!

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