When I was a child, I thought that artificial Christmas trees were the strangest things. Why display a plastic tree when the real thing was all around, just waiting to be turned into Christmas?
The only people I knew who had artificial trees were the very elderly, and it seemed a sad sign of giving up on life to switch to a tree that came out of a box and had to be screwed together.
Maybe I would have felt differently if artificial trees had been the lush, realistic, better-than-nature trees you can buy today. But in the 1970s, they looked more like Charlie Brown Christmas trees, with their handful of spindly branches and abundant negative space.
I always vowed that I would never have a fake tree. When I was a child, we went out into the woods and cut our own. When I was a teen, we perused the pop-up Christmas tree stands and carefully selected just the right tree. For a few years as an adult, I didn’t have a tree at all, and then I moved onto a country road lined with sugar maples and into a house that was literally two doors down from a Christmas tree farm. It was magic. I loved walking down the road to the Christmas tree farm and cutting my own tree.
And then I moved to South Dakota. Land without trees. (I grew up in Georgia, which has around 250 native tree species, according to the Internet. South Dakota has just 26!) I figured there would be stands where you could buy trees that were shipped from somewhere else, but there weren’t. The local grocery store had a few sad wrapped trees leaned against the building, but they were small and dried out and very expensive. And that’s how I ended up shopping the after-Christmas sales one year and purchasing an artificial tree.
It’s fairly lush and natural-looking. It doesn’t have that good Christmas tree smell, but it also doesn’t leave pine sap stuck to your hands for days. And it’s convenient. The only trip I have to make to get my tree is to the basement.
But the best part of the artificial Christmas tree is that the cats don’t seem to know the difference. A tree is a tree is a tree, and they love climbing it. One of the joys of the holiday season, for me, is happening upon a living, breathing, scrambling tree ornament.
Of course they bend all the branches and knock ornaments off and occasionally knock the entire tree down, and they eat the plastic needles and throw up little green piles all over the house. But I don’t mind the inconvenience when there is the daily pleasure of watching the happiest cats on earth chase each other around, up, and over the Christmas tree.
cats in christmas tree
round eyes peak between branches