The Christmas We Decided To Get a Fake Tree (Next Year)

by Laura on December 21, 2012

Last year we had tacky plastic, but this year we went all grab-bag-surprise for our Christmas tree.

We had gotten the kids all pumped-up about a whole Saturday last month to do the traditional Christmas decorating, post-Turkey-Day. We were going to set out into the Colorado forest and hack down our own tree, since three years ago when we did that it proved such a joyful experience– complete with all three kids crying, the baby falling in the snow, Matt forgetting the rope to tie the tree to the car, and the tree that took actually a lot of effort to cut down ending up all Charlie-Brown-pathetic-looking.

But, sadly (thankfully?), when we went to get the permit for the tree  that Saturday we found that they weren’t selling them until the following week.

Which led us to the festive, local, organic, wholesome experience of choosing a tree from. . .  the local Walmart garden center.

And now, at Walmart, especially early in the season, they don’t believe in fostering the experience of picking that perfect family Christmas tree. You know that entire selection process where you walk around the tree and envision its shape in your home and check for random branches or holey spots? Yeah, that’s out the window for the convenience of slapping down the standard $34 bucks and hauling the thing on top of your car in a record 6 minutes flat. You couldn’t even see the thing unbound from the twine, making all those frasier firs actually look a little bit like palm trees, all skinny the whole way up.

So there we are, all five of us, dressed like we’re about to embark on a hike through the Rocky Mountain forest, sans the saw that now would sadly not be put to use, walking around the cement lot, choosing a tree based on height alone.  You could say it was the grab-bag-tree experience, which in many ways I’d say is less than, but did get the task accomplished in less than ten minutes and with no tears or babies falling in the snow.

An hour later, we haul that thing inside. It’s all crooked in the tree stand and we’ve had to move half the furniture around in some odd concoction that will force visitors for the next month to catapult couches to get to the bathroom, but the kids are excited about the climactic moment where twine is snapped and we get to see the beauty that it must surely be. Our experience at Walmart is that they never sell crap, after all.

So, the string is cut, and immediately I have flashbacks of Chevy Chase and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Those branches boing out and what emerges is more giant-bush than shapely frasier fir.

The thing was fat and round and literally took up half the living room.

No matter, it’s Christmas, and the last 9 years of our marriage (which might just be a correlation to when we first had children) our trees have always looked pretty terrible. I’m afraid you wouldn’t be hard-pressed to call us classy– Number One: I’m not good at decorating. And Two: We have random ornaments. And Number Three:  We actually let the kids help us. And then Four: At least half our lights don’t work because we threw them in the box in a tangled wad the year before with a shameless lack of stewardship.

This year was no exception. Use your imagination.

But despite it all, we enjoyed that bush- tree, as much as possible. And since we are traveling to North Carolina to visit family (tomorrow!), we had Fake-Christmas last weekend. We did Fake-Christmas Eve with the Christmas story and fondue and stockings, then Fake-Christmas-Morning with gifts and monkey bread for breakfast. And by last Sunday, our tree-bush was dropping needles like some kind of sad commentary on how many months ago it had actually been harvested. Apparently, Walmart trees are not the freshest trees on the lot.

And, so, the week before Christmas, knowing that our week would be wild with school programs and work meetings, I declared Christmas-decorations over until we got to North Carolina. And in an hour flat, we had the ornaments off, the stockings in boxes, and the wreath off the door. And then, the argument began.

Because Matt generally has a hatred of Christmas lights and especially the process of untangling them from a dry and surprisingly-pokey tree. He starts hauling the tree out to the back door, with the Christmas lights still on it. And, being the spendthrift that I am, I reminded him that it’s actually wasteful to

throw the lights out with the tree.

But, the man doesn’t care, so frustrated is he with the whole mammoth-dying-tree-bush. And while he’s promising me he’ll buy strands for three dollars on sale after Christmas to replace them, we run into yet another problem with our Walmart beauty.

We had gotten the tree in the house all wrapped up in rope. And now that it was in its full glory, the thing wouldn’t fit through the door, try to shove as he might, with the glass door all shaky and threatening to bust.

And, so . . . . the next 15 minutes was spent in fishing the saw out of the car, finally called into action as it was, and hacking off about a third of the lower branches, right there beside the kitchen table.

At this point, it was a shop-vac-kind of job to get the needles up from the carpet, and Matt was so frustrated by finally wrestling the thing out the door that he just chucked it in the backyard.

Lights and all. 

And, so, there she sits. Our Walmart bush. With two strands of lights. Dry as anything, and probably still a fire hazard in the backyard until we get back from our trip East.

Like I said, we are real classy around Christmastime.


How about you? What kind of tree do you have? And what decorating/holiday mishaps have you had of late? How’s the season of crazy treating you? 

  • Caitlin Thompson

    Haha. I love everything about this, Laura. Thank you for your generous vulnerability and beautiful story-telling. 110% relatable. LOVE you :)

  • Tamara

    Love this! Can honestly say we’ve felt the same but didn’t have the
    out of going out of town for Christmas! We have a great decorator tree
    that is a tradition in its own right – 15 ft of loveliness straight out
    of our forest – that made my just-home-from-the-DR-at-2
    a.m.-this-morning daughter gasp in delight. We also have the fake tree
    we got a million years ago bc our children are allergic to growing
    things and it is covered – yes, covered – in ornaments from their
    preschool through adult days, our travels w/ the military, gifts from
    well-meaning friends and family. Both of them mean a lot. Together
    they symbolize Christmas to our family: the Glory of Christ in those
    twinkling lights and ornaments on the decorator tree, the humble
    beginnings of our Lord in those odd, egg-carton ornaments and fake
    needles that shed like real on the Family Tree, and over all of us from
    each tree is an angel smiling faintly and sweetly and somewhat bemusedly
    as if she knows a wonderful secret. So glad to know at least part of
    the secret, and looking forward to the revelation of it all one day.

    Blessings to you!

    mishap is not of late but the funniest was finding the 15+ ft.
    decorated tree having fallen across the room during our absence to
    church and the falling LAUNCHED the star on top to the floor where it
    EXPLODED into a million hard-plastic pieces and they mingled with about a
    million more pieces of crystal and porcelain from other unfortunate
    ornaments. and we found it with less than an hour before 65 people
    showed up at our house for a house blessing! fun times!)

  • Marla Taviano

    We spent last Christmas in Cambodia, and I’ve been fighting feelings of bitterness over the fact that we’re not there this year too. We decided no tree or decorations, but friends of ours bought us a cute little tree for $10, so we decorated it with everything we have that came from a different part of the world (+ felt ornaments in the shapes of Africa, Cambodia, and Haiti, and an awesome globe ornament). One nativity scene. That’s it. I’m so over Christmas. We spent this past week with my side of the family, and it was beautiful. No icky materialism. Just lots of love and good food and handmade gifts and games and laughter. God is good. I’m so thankful.

  • elora nicole ramirez

    This is hilarious.

  • Heather

    I cannot stop laughing. That picture is too much—especially with the stand sitting there all lonely and the way they both got completely dumped on from this week’s snowstorm. Too too funny.
    We got the Walmart tree-bush too, and I swear that thing will be out the door on the 26th—if it fits. We even tried drilling holes in the side of it as a last ditch effort to get it to soak up some more water to keep it from being *completely* brown by Christmas, but our efforts were to no avail. I’d like to say we’ve learned a lesson from this, but knowing us, history will repeat itself and we’ll have tree amnesia on Black Friday next year.
    We’ll be missing you here, but I hope you guys have a super duper fun trip :)
    love and hugs

    • Laura Parker

      Ha- sooo identify with the 25th: Merry Christmas! Hohoho !!!!!!
      The 26th: baa humbug! It’s outta here!

  • Teri Miller

    Whollleee canoly. I’m downstairs all by myself…literally laughing myself into tears.

    Sheesh, I feel ever so much better about how classy we do Christmas ’round here too…!!! Tho we do actually venture into the woods & chop ye old tree down. Thankfully, at 17, Caleb is old enough to hack it down, while Kevin & I rescue popsicled-toddlers from snow face-planting. But no matter how picturesque it looks in the woods, when it arrives in the living room, it is more bush than tree, and dangerously caddy-wompus.

    And I’ve always wondered – is burning a few strings of lights in the Christmas-tree-bonfire bad for the ozone?

    I might have to buy new after-Christmas-sale lights every year, but at least I’m in good company!

    • Laura Parker

      Loved your word pic of caddy-wompus. That us seriously a word I Need to use more often!! Lol. And the ozone?! Oh sheesh, you’re probably right!

  • Richelle Wright

    laughed the first time I scanned through this last night… and laughing again as i read it through this time – the last picture is perfect!

    we put up our tree this year and the only lights that worked were the red, blinking ones. i wanted to forego the lights completely but the kids didn’t, so… my living room reminded me of many moons ago when I went to visit the Salem witch trials museum. that feeling doesn’t exactly put me in the “Christmas” spirit. thankfully, a friend took pity on us and gave us a couple of strands of white lights and it is 100% improved.

    ps we don’t just let the kids help us – they do the whole thing, kit and kaboodle and have for a few years while we watch and giggle and make suggestions here and there. :-) might not be the prettiest tree around, but it is always interesting. so can’t wait for our real tree turn next year!

    • Laura Parker

      Now you are the one making me laugh.

  • Jen Runnells Musgrave

    I love our “after Christmas clearence score pre-lit stack it up plug it in and light a pine scented candel” artificial tree even more now:)

    • Laura Parker

      Gotta get me one of those . 😉

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