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13 December 2008 @ 12:45 am
Not the Christmas you were looking for...  
HalfshellHusband randomly mentioned that our daughter's friend's family got a plastic Christmas tree this year, and the friend understandably is not happy about that.

I said that every year I think about a plastic tree. They're better than they used to be, they're more eco-friendly, and they don't involve me belly-crawling on the carpet trying to anchor the tree-stand and getting pitch all over myself. But they also don't smell like Christmas, and that counts for a lot.

Then I told him that my parents eventually went to a plastic tree when I was growing up. Over time, the 'limbs' didn't fit together quite the way they used to, so we had to use duct tape to 'tighten' the fit of the ends into the sockets. And he burst out laughing: "Duct tape on a plastic Christmas tree— how can it get more pathetic than that? And are those really the kind of childhood memories you want to build for the future?"

I had to ask, "Knowing my Dad, can you honestly see it going any other way? It would start out with good intentions, but eventually you'd always get to the falling-apart plastic tree with the duct tape."

We laughed ourselves into tears over that, and then detoured through the memory of the 'yellow-jacket' Christopher made for an age-4 preschool project. These were supposed to be papier-mache insects, but he kept thinking his was too flimsy and adding more duct tape to reinforce it. At Open House, there were all these hanging displays of various insect-like creatures, and then Christopher's 10-pound multi-wad duct-tape monstrosity. I think his artistic 'propensities' were already entirely evident at that age. :0

The duct tape stories cracked us up more than tonight's movie, 50 First Dates. SO many people liked that movie that I rented it in spite of Adam Sandler, and we forced ourselves to watch it. Parts of it were kind of sweet, but I came away hating Adam Sandler even more. Those kinds of juvenile neuroses and penis obsessions? You pay a therapist to work those out— you don't expect movie audiences to pay to endure them. *is disgruntled* *needs new gruntles*

So, like my icon?

 
 
 
Pheebs1pheebs1 on December 13th, 2008 10:05 am (UTC)
My mum's had an artificial tree for years that's still going. I think it takes efforts to make it stand upright, heh, but I kind of feel affection for the same old tree that's been up for the last however many years !
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Xmas Penguinhalfshellvenus on December 13th, 2008 10:14 am (UTC)
I think it takes efforts to make it stand upright, heh

That's how the family tree finally got-- some of the limbs tended to curl up or down and had to be manipulated to look semi-natural, and parts would just fall off randomly (hence the duct-tape solution!).

My parents finally got rid of the green one and went for an artificial white one, upon which my Dad wants practically no ornaments because he's getting to be more of a control freak all the time. But all of this is better than the moldy artificial-snow-painted tree branch they used to keep under the house and drag up at Christmas. My mother called that the Druid tree, and she hung blue silk balls on it and not much else. Every now and then she'd refresh the coat of "snow."

I personally could never get over the though of what might have taken residence in the bark or moss while the thing was under the house. Yick!
Pheebs1pheebs1 on December 13th, 2008 10:20 am (UTC)
Heh this comment just arrivd in my gmail and now all the links down the side are selling me white xmas trees!

Hee to moldy branches dragged out every year! and Refreshed! ;)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Xmas Penguinhalfshellvenus on December 13th, 2008 10:25 am (UTC)
Hee to moldy branches dragged out every year! and Refreshed! ;)

So disgusting, and yet... this is what happens when you let habit take over and stop really looking at what it is you're doing. :0

Not that I'm ever guilty of that. ;)
Deutschtard: 'tis me ;; ME ~ RLdeutschtard on December 13th, 2008 10:58 am (UTC)
My grandparents have a plastic tree, and they have a spray can: "Real pine scent" that they spray when they break out the tree. Once they drench it for like 30 seconds, it smells like christmas for like five days before they have to re-spray. xD;

but that's up in Washington, now, down in CA, their tree is white and plastic. it's still pretty :3 They decorate it well and it's still christmas-y
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Xmas Penguinhalfshellvenus on December 13th, 2008 08:57 pm (UTC)
Once they drench it for like 30 seconds, it smells like christmas for like five days before they have to re-spray. xD;
Yargh. The thought of the spray on the ornaments is kind of alarming too-- does it cause buildup? But the "fake new tree smell" was definitely created for a reason!

now, down in CA, their tree is white and plastic. it's still pretty :3 They decorate it well and it's still christmas-y
My parents' new fake white tree doesn't look too bad, though it would look better with a lot more ornaments. :D
Deutschtarddeutschtard on December 13th, 2008 09:52 pm (UTC)
not that I remember. it's kinda like febreeze air effects or any of those glade room freshener sprays. but the last time i saw it used was.. oh.... at least 10 years ago before they left it up in Washington.

hehe -nods- we've got a gorgeous tree with gold ornaments. I'll see if I can snag a pic this year :3
sadelyrate: thinkingsadelyrate on December 13th, 2008 11:00 am (UTC)
A couple of years back, we decided to get rid of the tradition of getting a real tree inside the house. Instead, it's out on the yard. Or, like last year, there's a small group of smaller trees. The kids loved their 'forest', and the adults didn't need to worry about the needles. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Xmas Penguinhalfshellvenus on December 14th, 2008 06:45 am (UTC)
I could see the appeal of an outdoor tree in a snow climate. Ours is a rain climate, so most of the ornaments would be destroyed. And we couldn't put the presents outside, not if we wanted to keep them.

The needle problem would be solved, though!

When it is darkest, men see the stars.witchofthedogs on December 13th, 2008 01:44 pm (UTC)
I grew up with a "fake" tree and didn't have a real one until I got home from my first semester of college, took my father's brand-new Thunderbird, bought a tree, shoved it in the trunk and brought it home.

There is just a different feel about a real tree.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 14th, 2008 06:46 am (UTC)
A real tree has a feeling of celebration to me (but really, it's all about the feel of the needles as you decorate, and the fact that your house is filled with that incredible smell for weeks). :)
gunznammo2gunznammo2 on December 13th, 2008 02:39 pm (UTC)
Oh, VENUS, your childhood memories brought back visions of our Christmas trees over the years when I was young (many, many years ago). There were 7 of us kids, spread out over 15 years so needless to say, times were usually pretty tight, but our Daddy always managed to get a tree for us and he would set it up in the corner of our rather small, farm-house living room then proceeded to decorate it, with our help, of course. Some of those trees were pretty scrawny - something akin to Charlie Brown's, but I my eyes, they were (and always will be) the most beautiful things outside of Heaven. Full of lights and icicles. Perfection. I tell my grandson of these trees and he DOES see them - through my memories.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Xmas Penguinhalfshellvenus on December 14th, 2008 06:50 am (UTC)
Some of those trees were pretty scrawny - something akin to Charlie Brown's, but I my eyes, they were (and always will be) the most beautiful things outside of Heaven. Full of lights and icicles. Perfection.
It's the family spirit, isn't it, more than the tree?

Back in the first few years we were married, my husband and I had no tree, then a small living tree (which died before spring). It was just the two of us, and we always drove up to Oregon for part of Christmas, so the tree seemed wasted. But our opinion definitely changed.

One year, a neighbor around the corner was pruning his Chinese hackberry tree, and had all these limbs on his driveway. I snagged one to make a tree out of, and HalfshellHusband about died-- he thought that was going to be the most dreadful Charlie Brown tree ever. But once it was set up in the corner, with the lights and decorations on it, he decided that it was actually very pretty. And that I hadn't completely lost my mind. :0
gunznammo2gunznammo2 on December 14th, 2008 02:59 pm (UTC)
You know, all through the years when our kids were growing up, we always had a real tree. They were nothing special, sorta wrapped in twine to hold the branches together. We bought them at our local Cenex gas station. And the kids absolutely loved them - so did I. And the SMELL was heavenly. For the last couple of years, Hubby and I haven't put up a tree but come Christmas, we'll be heading down to Bismarck to spend the holidays with our kids so I'm okay with that. It really IS about family and being together.
happy is as happy does: John Winchester for Christmas - SPNhappywriter06 on December 13th, 2008 03:44 pm (UTC)
I've had real and fake and I definitely like real better. The fake one we had was also short we had to put it on a box every year. It was a gift from my aunt. Why my mom kept it when she can't stand my aunt is a mystery.

I think your icon is adorable.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Xmas Penguinhalfshellvenus on December 14th, 2008 06:51 am (UTC)
I definitely prefer real too, though once the kids are out of the house I'll bet we eventually buy a fake tree.

This little penguin here was given to the kids by Santa last year. They each got one in their stockings, and I still find him one of the most adorable stuffed penguins ever. He's actually cuter with the hat up-- it's almost as tall as he is!
she said mysteriously: cafe writingresounding_echo on December 13th, 2008 05:08 pm (UTC)
We've had a plastic tree since I was in middle school. I remember fondly my real tree memories, but I must say the convenience of a plastic tree is nice. It's true that the limbs get a little sad over time, but it's equally true that the fake trees are pretty nice now. Ours is probably due for an update.

Your family never ceases to entertain me. Love these stories.

HUGE FREAKING WORD ON ADAM SANDLER. I must say though, that I've never made the mistake of watching that movie. Now I'm glad.

There are two exceptions though: I will always enjoy the Wedding Singer, and I really liked Spanglish.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Xmas Penguinhalfshellvenus on December 14th, 2008 06:57 am (UTC)
It's true that the limbs get a little sad over time, but it's equally true that the fake trees are pretty nice now.
Yes, our family's tree was an item from the late 1970s, and it was fairly awful compared to what exists now. And got more terrible over time. :0

Your family never ceases to entertain me. Love these stories.
Hee-- I'm so glad. The one about Christopher's bug really gets me, because that represents his whole approach to art. If it doesn't happen quickly and easily, his idea of the "goal" will eventually diverge into its own unrecognizable world. From "Let's make insects!" (with the implication that you picked some particular insect for a reason, and that your finished product will look like it) to "My bug is really sturdy." XD

I will always enjoy the Wedding Singer, and I really liked Spanglish.
I only kind of liked "Spanglish" (would have liked it more without him, because again, he was a total putz), and I am too chicken to try The Wedding Singer (I fear my hatred of him might eat me alive with that movie).
devon99 on December 13th, 2008 07:37 pm (UTC)
I actually put up my plastic tree today!! My sister and little nephew came over and we spent all afternoon decorating it. It looks beautiful. I have all of my great-grandmothers and grandmothers tree ornaments - all hand made, crystal and glass and when I look at them it makes me feel very special.

*I iz all Christmassy now*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Xmas Penguinhalfshellvenus on December 14th, 2008 06:59 am (UTC)
Hee! I'm all about the ornaments-- much as I admire the theme trees (as in, "Coca Cola Santa" or "Blue And Silver" or whatnot) and they look very pretty, I have special love for each of our ornaments (hand-chosen over time) and even though the result is a hodge-podge tree it still looks beautiful to us!
Deadbeat Nymph: sam dean windowdeadbeat_nymph on December 13th, 2008 07:58 pm (UTC)
I grew up with a plastic tree. One year, though, we had a real tree, and it was so much better. Last year, my first ever Christmas alone (i.e. not with my family), I got my own little real tree. I will never go back to plastic.

My parents moved into their new home recently, and most of their stuff is still in storage. My mom didn't want to have to dig through stuff to find the plastic tree, so she was going to buy a new plastic tree. Egads! She didn't want all the work of the real tree, so I convinced her to get a potted one. She did, and she's very happy with it.

I looked quickly, but I had some trouble finding a company in NorCal. (Granted, I only spent a couple of minutes investigating it.)I did find one in San Diego, but I imagine that's too far. However, I found this site, based in Oregon, that rents big potted trees for the holidays, then picks them up and plants them. They do say to contact them in you live outside of Oregon. I think they have some links that might be helpful, too. I just thought you might be interested.

Living Christmas Tree Rental


Edited at 2008-12-13 07:58 pm (UTC)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Xmas Penguinhalfshellvenus on December 14th, 2008 07:09 am (UTC)
What a cool idea THAT is! A real tree, but it survives for another year. Until it's resigned to rentals in lobbies and such because it's too big for a house, and eventually gets planted for real!

We had a small potted live tree one year, but it died during the winter before it could be planted. Around here, the trees are taken to various 'greencycle' locations and fed to a wood-chipper and then used as mulch or landscaping material. There are some roads I bicycle along in Roseville, and in January and February certain sections of the road-crew-maintained landscaping smell like Christmas tree!
miss_mandy on December 13th, 2008 08:41 pm (UTC)
I've had two real trees (one bought, one cut down) in my house for about 18 years until my parents finally went and bought two fakies.

I think the both look great and are really realistic. (I should post a picture on my lj for you to see) The one downstairs is bigger and has paper-y needles, while the one upstairs has plastic needles. And my mom puts pine scent on the oil burner when we're decorating or having our Christmas party to make it smell nice.

I'm glad they waited until we were older to get the fake ones, but it has nothing to do with the actual trees themselves. I just really loved the tradition of driving up the valley to cut down a scraggly looking pine from underneath the power lines.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Xmas Penguinhalfshellvenus on December 14th, 2008 07:13 am (UTC)
For me personally, the "paper" needles seem more realistic and I'm not sure why. The plastic has more the texture of the real needles, but still... plastic!

I just really loved the tradition of driving up the valley to cut down a scraggly looking pine from underneath the power lines.
Yes-- as a grownup, I wouldn't mind the fake tree, but for kids I like the live tree idea (and tradition) better. We drive less than a mile to the seasonal tree lot where they sell the Oregon trees that are grown on tree farms (even saw acres of them this last summer-- the new baby trees are midgetory).

But despite my natural pull toward the Douglas fir, we tend to buy a noble fir because it's easier to hang things on and my husband prefers it. Still-- Douglas fir! Smells like home to me. :)
Serena64serena64 on December 13th, 2008 10:29 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean about the smell of the Christmas tree. That's why I love real ones. Coming downstairs in the morning and the smell of pine is just magical.
This year we're not buying a real one as we're away for most of Christmas. I thought I might pick up a little artificial one instead, but looking in the shops today, I just couldn't bring myself to buy one, so I guess we're going without, which feels very strange.
Thanks for the heads-up about 50 First Dates. It's on telly tomorrow and I thought I might watch it, but I'm also not a great Adam Sandler fan, so with your opinion to tip the balance I think I'll just give it a miss. Maybe I can do something useful and Christmassy instead, like ice the cake or start wrapping presents.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Xmas Greetingshalfshellvenus on December 17th, 2008 10:06 pm (UTC)
so I guess we're going without, which feels very strange.
We've done that before, but not since having kids. It's a little strange not having one, but when kids are involved it would be even harder. Even the living Xmas tree-- the tabletop kind-- is nice, but who would water the poor thing while you're away?

It's on telly tomorrow and I thought I might watch it, but I'm also not a great Adam Sandler fan, so with your opinion to tip the balance I think I'll just give it a miss.
He's not even in my "meh" category-- I actively dislike his whole schtick, and it's present in virtually everything he does. This movie deserves to be skipped, in my opinion, and I wish we had!

I've been wrapping presents during shows that I like but don't desperately love (The Mentalist, SCC), so I can stand the divided attention. One of my favorite Xmas movies for wrapping presents, though, is "While You Were Sleeping." I love that movie, and yet it's not like "The Grinch" (original) where if you look away you'll miss something.
Princess Robot Bubblegum!: cuppaastrothsknot on December 14th, 2008 03:48 am (UTC)
We always had a platic tree - except for a few year when we had a real one.

I have a plastic tree and would never want a real one. No pissing about with tree stands. no beasties crawling off it. No needles stabbing you when you put it up. No pine needles needing hoovered up every day. No pine needles trailing through the house when you're chucking it out. Christmas is dear enough as it is without paying for a new tree every year. No wondering how the hell you'll get it home.

I'll stick with plastic, thank you.

But duct tape? Duct tape?
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Xmas Greetingshalfshellvenus on December 17th, 2008 10:09 pm (UTC)
no beasties crawling off it.
Fortunately, we've only ever had the occasional spider. I would seriously fear anything more than that.

At our old house, we noticed one night that the cat had been worshipping the woodpile for well over an hour. So we got up to see why. Beetles-- all over the wood and inside the house! YICK. HSH put the wood outside, and we only brought it in when it was time to toss it on the fire. *shudders*

I'll stick with plastic, thank you.
If you're used to it-- and it stores away well-- it's certainly much more convenient.

But duct tape? Duct tape?
My Dad is the type who never stands back to ask what the larger picture looks like. He stays on "Well, my tree fits together now" instead of "This is so incredibly wrong and tacky that it defeats the original purpose of using a plastic tree."