Theological Differences

So Himself and I have been wrestling with some deep issues lately.

Issues that bring into sharp relief the differences in our spiritual upbringings, the differences in our faiths and the way it shapes our view of the holidays. Differing perspectives in how we want to raise the children and craft our family’s traditions.

I am speaking, of course, of that emotionally mine-field laden, timeless conflict: real versus artificial Christmas trees.

We’ve had to bring the children into this conversation, because they’re a little older now and it just feels wrong to be dealing with issues this large and not consider their opinions too. We’ve worked hard to raise children who can think, reason and articulate their feelings clearly so it seems silly to go through all that effort and then not have them participate when the situation warrants.

It’s a difficult conversation to have, obviously, but it will go fine as long as I am the parent they agree with.

But they’re a little thrown off by where Himself and I are standing on this issue.

You see, I’m the one that wants the artificial tree.

I made a list.

(Which as you all know, made me SO HAPPY because a day where I can make a list is a day where life is good, the unicorns are frolicking with the mermaids, flowers are blooming out of season and I can convince myself that chocolate has no calories.)

Here is the list I made of reasons why an artificial tree is a good choice:

  1. One investment lasts 15 years – $200 for an artificial tree versus $750 for annual real trees.
  2. Less annual guilt about putting a tree into the recycling (I know, this isn’t a real thing as long as the tree is composted. Christmas tree farming does not de-forest the planet. I just can’t quite shake the environmental angst of killing a tree every year.)
  3. No need to try and squeeze a trip to the tree lot every year in a season where we are so overscheduled we can barely keep ourselves hydrated.
  4. No need to try and get a Christmas tree home tied to the top of a 98 Volkswagen Jetta. (One year we actually – honest to god – ended up tied into the car. Cause we are a new type of brilliant where brilliance is measured by how many times a year you can get trapped in a small space.)
  5. We can put the tree up earlier than we typically do. I can’t stand to look at the tree once it is a water-less husk waiting to catch fire from the reflection of the sun off glass ornaments.
  6. Much much much much less mess.

Here is the list Himself made about why a real tree is a good choice:

  1. They smell nice.

Saturday we went to Target to look at artificial trees. Now, to be fair, it’s only in the last year or two where the look of an artificial tree has gotten so good that I could consider it. But some of them are just gorgeous, they’re already lit (which is a HUGE time-saver, given that it takes us nine hours and a slide rule to get the lights on the tree), and they’re very reasonably priced.

I strolled around the trees, comparing number of tips and number of lights, and the look of the branches and settled on a tree.

Himself – who is Jewish, remember – stood next to me, looking forlorn.

“It won’t have that nice smell,” he said.

“I’ll get a wreath and hang it over the fireplace. It’ll smell lovely.”

“It won’t be as natural.”

“It’s going to be covered with shiny crap. You won’t be able to tell. And then we don’t have to go get the tree.”

“I like getting the tree.”

“You won’t have to tie it to the car.”

“I don’t mind tying it to the car.”

“It won’t be as messy.”

“I don’t mind cleaning up the mess.”

And he stood in Target, gazing up at the artificial tree with giant, sad puppy-dog eyes, and I felt like I was ruining Christmas for him.

Yes, people, I was ruining Christmas for my Jewish husband.

I can’t be that kind of Scrooge.

We’re getting a real tree.




Project: Purse and Boots programming note. Today on PPNB is a blog-crossing story featuring Pursey Galore’s  last three hostesses. Go take a look!


  1. We had that discussion when we moved into our home. Before that we got real trees from the tree guy selling in the parking lot across from the apartment building.

    I insisted if it was real, it must be replantable.

    And it must be REPLANTED right after the holidays.

    Digging a hole in the ground in January is next to impossible here, so after a couple years trying it, DH surrendered & we’ve had fake ones ever since. Last year we finally got a 6 foot pre lit one & I was so happy

    1. Umm…totally couldn’t cope with REPLANTING a tree.

      I can barely handle getting a root-less one in and out of the house.

      I totally understand your decision.

  2. That’s so funny – Mommy is Jewish and she insists on a real tree, too! We have dreidel and menorah ornaments – and our tree topper is a Jewish star. :)

    Happy Holidays!

  3. Awww… I feel your husband’s pain. There’s nothing like a real tree in the house. It’s not so much about the tree. It’s about loading up, bundling up, walking the tree lot and waiting for the right one to scream, “TAKE ME HOME.” I’m so allergic to ours yet year after year we continue to bring one in the home… with a shiny new package of zyrtec! You’re a good wife for not ruining *ahem* Christmas for him!

    1. Yes, he insists that that’s part of what he loves too, the going and getting the tree.

      Except our kids lives are SO busy now (and we only have them half the time) that that activity is more and more often just becoming he and I.

      But he says he still likes it.


      Where the hell are my rain boots?

      1. Yup, fake tree here, but we hit up Bath and Body Works yesterday and bought Balsam Fir wallflower thingy.

        It’s smells all sorts of wonderful in here.

  4. Okay, so he’ll clean up the initial mess, but will he get out the vacuum with the little hose attachment and suck up needles every other day? THAT is why we now have an artificial tree.

    1. Our tree sits on a hardwood floor, right next to the back slider.

      So after the initial sweep/swiffer…it’s actually done.

      And if he’s offering to do it…I sort of lose that part of the argument.


  5. Hahaha. Your list is pretty much the exact reasons why we got a fake tree. Well that and we found out the reason that I would get bronchitis for Christmas every year (thank you very much) was because I’m allergic to trees.

    I’m pretty sure you can buy the “tree smell” and spray it around your house.

    1. Ack!

      No bronchitis for you!

      I didn’t even think about that.

      But I don’t think anyone’s actually allergic.

      Cause I would so add that to my list.

  6. I have 3 cats and a dog.
    If I put a real tree in the house?
    The cats would be in it.
    The dog would pee on it.

    Besides. With a dozen fake trees in my attic, I have no choice but to use them.

    1. Somehow, things like getting tied into a car are somehow woven into my life on a daily basis.

      It just sort of seems to keep happening that way.

      Also, told Himself your story of the turkey innards and he just about died laughing.

      That was a brilliant tale.

      (So to speak.)

  7. I love you Lori but you are wrong. I stand firmly with himself on this issue.
    No way will a $200 fake tree last you 15 years. Unless you want to look like the crazy neighborhood lady with the dust smelling decorations. In our community trees are collected after Christmas and used in restoring damaged ecosystems or they are chipped and used as mulch in community gardens.
    And all the rest, Himself said he didn’t mind.

    1. Recycled trees are put to good use here too.

      I think I just read The Lorax too often as a child.

      And to my child.

      “I am the Lori, I speak for the trees!”

  8. I have noticed the newer fake trees look really good. That got me thinking that I should purchase one AFTER x-mas, so as to take advantage of any sale prices. But for me, the truth is… Christmas is fake enough- especially here in CA where there is no snow (I grew up in MN). I liken the act of seeking and finding and erecting and decking a fragrant, living tree as a spiritual act, thus engaging directly with the ghosts of Christmas. Also, my cat loves a real tree and frolics gaily daily beneath it. And finally, plastics create waste that will eventually seep into the food chain. Plastics in the ocean looks like algae. Just sayin’…

    1. Himself also contests that the manufacturing of fake plastic trees is not better than farming Christmas trees. And a friend sent an article that said as much, so I think I can get back on board the ecological train of NOT thinking that throwing a tree away at the end of the season is a horrible thing to do.

      And…I bet you miss snow (at least for holiday purposes) a lot.

  9. This is the sweetest post I have read in awhile. I’m imagining you all in a GAP ad with the tree and the colourful scarves and mittens with rosy cheeks. As you walk toward the camera out of the lush green forest, huge gigantic snowflakes begin falling… screeech….wait a minute… you live in California….? Damn there goes my daydream. Just go buy the tree. I’m just not feeling the wearing shorts as you cut down the palm tree. Its not working for me, sorry.

    1. At least up here it gets cold and rainy.

      I was in Southern Cal one year around Christmas time.

      They had bows tied to the palm trees, and it never got below 70 degrees.

      Now THAT felt wrong.

    1. You win! You win!

      Plus Yuliya sent me an article on how real trees are more ecological than fake trees.

      I’m getting a real tree.

      Possibly even tonight.

  10. I finally gave in to the fake tree at a close out after Christmas sale last year after years of pressure from my husband. He had it unfolded and fluffed out for me while I went shopping the day after Thanksgiving and I was so happy that all I had to do was throw on the ornaments. I’ll never tell him, but I’m glad he insisted on the fake tree.

    1. Well, if it’s a secret then I’ll never tell him either.

      Cause I’m way good at secrets.

      That are about me, at any rate.

      Other people’s secrets are fair game.

      Except this time.


    1. No! No!

      Over 15 years, the tree investment for live trees would be $750.

      If a live tree cost $750 we would have done the purple tinsel fake one years ago.

  11. I was really worried you were discussing whether you should be cremated or embalmed and kept in a rocking chair…what a relief.

    I have to say that I like the real tree – ‘because it smells nice’ ha – but I finally won out in decorating with white lights this year over my husband’s choice of colored lights matched with tinsel and candy canes. Yes, tinsel.

    1. Embalmed and kept in a rocking chair?

      Thhbbt. I plan to be stuffed and hung over the mantle.

      And, tinsel??

      I think that’s grounds for divorce in at least 18 states.

      If it should come to that.

  12. I believe my husband and you are married to exactly the same flavor of Jew. However, he won. This year we have a 7 1/2 foot fully-lit tree. Which we got for $20. Anyway, the advantages I’ve noticed so far are 1) no needles all over the floor 2) no fear of a huge conflagrations from a shorted light and 3) when I moved all the ornaments the kids had hung on the bottom branches – and I mean ALL were on the bottom – I did not get poked by a needle.

    Otherwise? Fake trees suck.


    Your Jewish Friend

    1. That’s pretty well his feeling too.

      And since he’s offering to pay for it, haul it and clean up after it, I really do not have any excuses.

      Plus, apparently, my annual tree-killing guilt is totally misplaced.

      Real tree it is.

  13. Yes, people, I was ruining Christmas for my Jewish husband. Classic!

    And yes, I thought of your funny Menora with the wrong candles when I saw the Advent wreath at church yesterday. :)

    1. I tried. I did.

      But he just looked too, too sad.

      And he said if a list was tipping the scales, he’d come up with more things for his list.

      He hasn’t yet, but…he’s determined.

  14. Oh dude, no. I am SOOOO with you.

    Lori? I’M WITH YOU.

    They’re not even prettier, real, anymore. Pre-lit! Better economically, in the end!

    I’m not a tree hugger, but. . . hello? Years to grow? 30 days in the house, then thrown out on the street like some daytime hooker?

  15. We are actually in the same battle. I want the real tree, though. Since I’m WAY better at arguing, I’m quite certain we’ll be getting a real tree.

    To ruin Christmas for your Jewish husband… now that takes some serious effort!

    1. I strive to be the best at these things. It’s what I live for.

      And I think if I’d put my full weight behind it (so to speak) I would have won.

      But…he looked so sad. I could’t do it.

  16. It’s easy to get a fake tree (and your own way) if you do what I did years ago — get a cat. Then explain to the husband that the poor cat is allergic to tree sap (they will usually play along by eating and then throwing up pine needles), so you CAN’T have a real tree. I have been doing this through three different cats and many years now, by maintaining that ALL cats are allergic to pine… I didn’t pick my SO for his brains! : )

    1. LOL!

      We have two (evil, beautiful, take-over-the-world-someday) cats.

      And since it doesn’t matter what kind of tree we have because we MUST keep the cats away from the tree unless we want it scattered around the rest of the house, I don’t think i can get that one to work for me.

      Maybe if I could convince one of the cats to start sneezing…

    1. With love, patience and good listening, any relationship can survive the real-vs-artifical tree rift.

      It may take counseling, or lots of alcohol, but it can be done.

      I promise. And I’m here for you when you reach that place.

  17. It takes a special kind of woman to ruin Christmas for her Jewish husband. And Lori, you nailed it.
    Maybe just spray some pine-scented air freshener around the room each day? On the tree? That would earn some points while ruining the indoor air quality.
    Good luck…..and you know, you and I have our extensive love of lists in common. I heart lists, I really do. I even re-write them when too many things are crossed off.

    1. I so love lists!

      And I do that too! Make a new list when the old list gets too cluttered and check offy (that is TOTALLY a word, mail program!).

      Also, in family we get REALLY IRRITATED if someone else checks off something from the list that they actually did.

      I am doing my job well over here.

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