KERRY HUBARTT: Traitor to traditon? Perhaps, but it’s a lot less stressful

Kerry Hubartt

My wife and I both enjoyed live Christmas trees in our families when we were growing up. So it was natural that we would continue that tradition after we got married.

And we did — for 46 years — until this year.

We’ve had all kinds of trees over the years. Tall ones, short ones. Fat ones, skinny ones. Full, thin. Long-needled white pine, short-needled Fraser fir.

We’ve had some that kept their needles till well after Christmas — and others that shed like a sheepdog before Santa showed up. Some that drank water like a thirsty camel, others that didn’t seem to soak up a drop.

We’ve cut our own at tree farms where we’ve sipped hot cider in the cold. We’ve bought several at stores or temporary Christmas tree lots where we had to pick out one cut who knows when and shipped in from who knows where. And, of course, the prices would vary according to where we bought them and how tall they were.

We had a tree the first year we built our house in the country that was so big and heavy we had to nail the tree stand to our living room floor — subfloor, actually. We hadn’t had the wood floors put down yet. And there were others where we had to wire them to the ceiling or walls to add support.

Why? We sadly remember one tree that fell over after it was fully decorated — at the expense of a few of our longtime glass ornaments.

There are good reasons to have a live tree. The tradition has been one of them for us. And the fragrance of fresh pine is pleasant. And they can be beautiful. The drawbacks I’ve already touched upon — you have to water them regularly or the shedding of dry needles can leave remnants of Christmas throughout your house the whole year long.

The biggest drawback for me was having to string six or seven strands of lights on the tree every year. It was the most time-consuming and sometimes frustrating task in the process.

Due to a perfect storm of stress and strain all at once since the end of October, we sort of kind of considered, maybe, that an artificial tree might be the way to go. When we saw the one our son got for his family this year at a local store, we were amazed at how realistic it was. And when he and my daughter-in-law explained the price and how easy it was to put up, we decided to go for it.

When I got it home and out of the box, it was up and ready for decorations in less than 15 minutes. It was permanently pre-strung with LED lights that can change from white to colored to blinking to fading in and out at the touch of a remote control. All I had to do was put the bottom third of the tree in the stand, put the second third on top of that and the top third on the second and it was done.

And when the season is over (after taking off the decorations, of course) I’ll unplug it, pull the sections off each other, put them into the original box and slide the box into the closet. Done.

So maybe I’m a traitor to tradition, but I’ll be a little less stressed this year — and for the next many, because I won’t have to buy a new tree every year.

Kerry Hubartt is the former editor of The News-Sentinel.