A friend asked to borrow my pickup to haul the family Christmas tree home, and being the kind man I am I offered to drive the truck myself. (I didn’t trust my 25 year old truck in his hands.) So last Saturday we loaded up my truck with his entire family and headed for the Christmas tree lot. I soon discovered why they call them Christmas tree lots... because that’s how much they cost. A lot!
My first clue that something was different than from the last time I went Christmas tree shopping 30 years ago was that the Sierra Club was picketing the tree lot. Buying Christmas trees is now like going to the grocery store and being asked your preference of bag. “Which do you prefer, paper or plastic?”
It’s a trick question. If you answer “paper” you’re a tree-chopping, puppy-killing Republican and if you answer “plastic” you’re a slave to the petrochemical multinationals. The correct answer is, “No thank you, I’ll carry everything in my arms and drop half the stuff before I get to my car.”
It’s now the same way with Christmas trees.
We ran into problems the minute we arrived at the lot. “Can’t we just buy a tree from Amazon, do we have to go outside?” asked the oldest urchin. “We aren’t going to buy a real tree are we? Don’t you know by clear cutting these trees that we’d be contributing to global warming?”
“Yeah, and destroying animal habitat too. Where will the birds roost if you clear cut all the tress?” chimed in the middle child.
“Don’t you know that a rock, is a tree is a bird is a boy?” said the animal rightist little elf.
My friend took one look at his over-educated children and said, “Huh?” He then looked to me for an explanation. “All I’m trying to do is buy a tree. Do you have any idea what they’re talking about.”
“I’m afraid I do,” I said, but before I could explain the wife offered a compromise.
“I suppose we could get a plastic tree this year honey. I have to admit that I get tired of cleaning up evergreen needles through the month of June every year. And a plastic tree would be flame proof too and we wouldn’t have that problem like we did last year with the fire department.”
“But we are celebrating the birth of Christ not Dupont. Besides they get more for those plastic trees than I paid for my first car.”
“What are you a scrooge?” asked the oldest child. “If you amortize the $489 cost of the tree over five years your yearly cost will be less than a real tree.”
Again asketh the father...”Huh?”
My friend, who wouldn’t know a Crescent wrench from a Christmas wench, looked at me with pleading eyes and said, “But you have to assemble a plastic tree. Don’t you remember what a hard time I had putting together the swing set? Your mother had the needles off the carpet and the smoke damage cleaned up before the swing set was usable. No, I am not going to buy a tree that requires a screwdriver and a pair of pliers to put together. Besides, they smell funny. I am putting my foot down. I will not have a silver, white or pink Christmas tree in my house!”
“Oh yeah,” screamed the seven year old Sierra Clubber. “What are you going to do with the real tree after Christmas? Burn it? Way to go you capitalist pig destroyer of the planet.”
“And you can’t bury it, and fill up our landfills,” cried the middle child.”
“Yeah, way to go dad. Kill a tree, fill a landfill, destroy the ecosphere,” chimed in the remaining radical environmentalist whacko child.
A couple hours later as my friend and I were assembling the plastic tree he said, “All I want for Christmas this year is for it to be over. My head hurts and I’m so confused because I don’t know if Santa is a he or a she, if I’m allowed to drink an old fashioned egg nog made from the product of two non-human animals, if the sled will pass the smog test or how big a tofurkey I need for Christmas dinner.”
“Don’t look at me,” I said. “You lost me at the whole tree thing.”