My husband and I moved out to Arizona a while back so I could go to grad school at ASU. A couple years later, we had our first child, and a year after that, bought our first house. I am very enthusiastic about Christmas, so that first year (about 7ish years ago) we got an upstairs tree (a smallish one) for the loft and a full size for the family room. Christmas spirit everywhere. I had a house, a family, and was ready to start my own traditions. I was so excited, I was a menace.
I did not understand why so many people in Arizona have artificial trees. I couldn’t see any fun at all in pulling an artificial tree out of a box in the garage. No matter how nice they were, the trees didn’t feel right, didn’t smell like Christmas. Plus, I had warm childhood memories of hunting through Christmas tree lots for the perfect tree.
We got our trees, the big and the mini, Thanksgiving weekend. Two weeks later, both were so dry they could only be good for kindling. Likewise, I started seeing articles and news reports about what a fire hazard Christmas trees are out here where it’s so dang dry in the winter. I saw a very sobering YouTube video showing how fast a whole house could catch from a Christmas tree, and soon I refused to turn the lights on the trees on at all. They sat there—dry, decorated sticks. Needles were everywhere—fantastic for our toddler. We finally decided to take down our ornaments and lights and drag the kindling into the back yard, before Christmas. My good friend and neighbor didn’t try to mask her laughing, and to this day, won’t let me live it down.
We bought a third tree to fill the depressing hole in our living room. Trees are inexpensive out here (a fraction of what they are back east!) and we couldn’t afford an artificial one that year. Decorating for the third time was not as much fun as you’d think. The mocking from my mommy friends was less so.
In the years since, we’ve had a gorgeous artificial tree. I love it. We got it at Costco. It came in a big box. The branches have pre-strung lights so bright you could probably see them from space. But best of all, the tree won’t burn my house down, which fills me with all kinds of Christmas spirit.
(Update: My husband just read this post and he said I left out the part where he tried to save the big tree. One night he took off all the ornaments, left the lights, dragged the tree to the garage, and sawed off a little more of the trunk so that the tree could get more water. Then brought it back in, put it up, and put the ornaments on. He tells me now he did it when our daughter and I were sleeping. That, right there, is why I married him.)