Christmas Trees: Fresh or Fake? You decide.

I once had a heated argument with a friend who adamantly told me that his, “fake tree was less harmful to the environment that cutting down a live tree.” A fake tree said he? This caused me to bristle like and evergreen.

I am a die-hard “real Christmas tree” fanatic.

He ‘greenly’ advocated for a bottle brush patchy, artificial fake tree, citing environmental statistics as he threw around the words “carbon” and “footprint” like they were cheap tinsel. The descriptive tree adjectives ‘artificial’ and ‘fake’ are turn-off enough for me. I could not wrap my head around his logic, nor the aesthetics of it.

I argued back: Real trees smell better; provide a livelihood for the farmers; there’s no plastic involved; there’s always the “Christmas Vacation” prospect of bringing home an errant squirrel; the trees are sustainable and can re-grow…my list could go on and on. I turned red and dug in my heels.

His argument, however wrong it felt, was compelling and my interest in the truth of his words led me to some research.  The fact is, the impact is mostly based on the distance you go to get the tree, not fake-versus-real. More on that black-and-white conversation can be found here.

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The bottom line for me: Cutting down a tree is our family tradition. My passion for it is as powerful as any logical science or carbon footprint. It means more to me than the act of swift retrieval from a dusty box in the attic.

Each year, the weekend after Thanksgiving, my family and I head to Holmes Tree Farm in West Kennebunk, Maine. The farm is a sprawling family operation with thousands of trees that are perfectly groomed and sustained.  We bundle up (it is always cold) and make out way to the north field that is filled with other happy tree hunters. The Holmes family provides you with saws and poles tied with flags at the 8 foot and 10 foot marks, so that you can to measure your prospective tree against the height of your ceiling.


Santa shows Ava his rubber band bracelets. He told her that, “The Elves are really into all the different designs.” Good for you, Santa! Ava loved it!

We search and negotiate, making our way over the roots and springy needles of trees past.  New trees shoot up from the field and enormous, ballroom-sized pines watch over us as we select from the more living-room-sized trees.

Finally, we choose, and as my husband leans down and begins to cut, we all remark on the perfume of the pine.  The tree is felled and we make our way to have it wrapped and strapped to the car.  We then head to the barn, where we grab a cup of hot cider (its free!) and line up to meet with Santa (also free).

As he is every year, he is there, fat and jolly.  He listens patiently and hands out candy canes.  I always wink at him and like clockwork, he touches his nose and says, “Be good.”

This year, the barn was home to homemade cider doughnuts that were made fresh-to-order.  It topped the day perfectly. The car was filled with heady pine mixed with the aroma of the doughnuts’ crispy cinnamon sugar.  This was better than the procurement of any fake tree – I am sure of it.

Share your tree stories – real or fake.  What traditions do you have when you get your tree or set it up? I would love to hear about it.

To find our more about Holmes Tree Farm, click below:

By Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons

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