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Artificial or Real

I was born and raised as a country boy in the rural Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. I love the art of writing..


Going out to buy the Christmas tree when I was a young boy was always a treat. We never put the Christmas tree up in our house until Christmas Eve. It was a tradition in our family to always decorate it on the day before Christmas.

However, before we ever got to that point we had to go get the Christmas tree and it was never bought at a store. We always went to a tree farm and spent a long time getting just the right tree. Do you have any idea how a family can disagree on choosing just the right tree? That stuck with me from when I was a little boy in the 1950s in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania until I had children of my own and was doing the same thing at a tree farm in the Poconos near the end of the century. The last time we bought a tree at a tree farm was in the year 2003, the Christmas before we moved permanently to North Carolina.

There had been many tree farms in the Poconos as long as I can remember. I was probably no more than five years old the first time I went. The price of a tree in 1955 was $2.00. Can you imagine that? As I remember the last Christmas tree we bought was $30.00, and that was a lot cheaper than at many places.

Today you see so many people buying their Christmas trees at home improvement stores and department stores. People say they don’t have the time to go out and cut down their own Christmas tree. However, going out to a Christmas tree farm with the kids in tow, spending a long time picking out just the right tree, and cutting it down is one of the most joyous events I can remember about Christmas. Many people go for the artificial trees, which I admit, have some advantages. But even the smell of a real tree is a pleasure that can stay with you for years. Many artificial trees now appear to be very real, but if you were born in the country and raised there, they are no substitute for the real thing.

No, you can’t save it from one year to the next like an artificial one. Artificial trees always look the same from year to year. When you go out and get a real tree it seems like you always say, “I think it’s prettier than the one we had last year.” As though anyone is going to remember how every tree looked through the years of buying real ones.

One year I remember, we had a very deep snowstorm right before Christmas and we couldn’t get out to choose a tree. Snow on Christmas Eve and Christmas day is always something that people from the country cherish forever. Since we couldn’t get a tree on this particular year, my brother Jim went into the forest near our house and cut down our Christmas tree. He came home with a white pine, which has very long needles. After it was decorated, it turned out to be one of the most beautiful trees we ever had. I think that is because we just couldn’t buy our tree. We were snow bound on Christmas but my brother got us a nice tree. Those occasional years that we were snowed in when I was growing up turned out to be some of the most memorable ones.

I’ll take searching for and cutting down that real tree at Christmas in a heartbeat before I’ll settle for, buying an artificial tree. Whether at Christmas or any time of the year, you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.

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