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.