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DayeTime: O' Christmas tree

While there’s no snow on the ground or even in the forecast here in Avoyelles, believe it or not it’s Christmas time.

If you haven’t answered the question, “real or fake” by now, you are running out of time.

Yes, in the old, old, old days, the Christmas tree was cut down and hauled home on Christmas Eve. In more modern times, Black Friday has become a favorite time to unbox the ornaments and decorate the tree.

Many of the trees going up in living rooms across Avoyelles Parish have been in the family almost as long as the ornaments that adorn them. Of course, those are artificial trees.

The fake trees have made a big dent in the Christmas tree market over the past decade or two. If you’re willing to spend a little more, the fake trees can pass for real -- especially if you invest in pine-scented air freshener to provide the appropriate holiday mood.

There’s also another convenience factor -- pre-lit trees. No more trying to untie the tangled mess of lights that must’ve wiggled around on their own over the past 12 months.

You can’t find one of those out in the woods or at the Christmas tree farm.

And, of course, unless you turn the Christmas tree into firewood, they are more trouble to “pack away” than the plastic variety.

Instead of just putting the tree back in its perfectly sized box and carrying it to the holiday storage closet, you will probably have to cut it up and stack it just so before the trash collectors will pick it up.

Or you can haul the tree back from whence it came.

Or there’s the fireplace or backyard bonfire option.

If you do use the tree for firewood, the real ones smell a lot better when burning than the fake ones do.

If you are a traditionalist and enjoy the experience of a real tree for Christmas, there are a few tips out there that will allow you to keep the old tannenbaum pretty and safe throughout the holiday season.

Proper care of the tree may also help to reduce one of the downsides to real tree ownership -- sticky needles that seem to reproduce months after the tree has been tossed.

The Christmas tree lot is not as common as it once was, but there are still already-cut trees available for purchase.

The main issue with this type of real tree is there is no way to tell how long the tree has been cut before it is purchased from the lot. That concern is addressed when the buyer goes to a “choose and cut” tree farm.

The tree’s first day in the house is critical, since the newly cut tree will drink up a lot of water.

If you do buy a tree from a retail store or tree lot, you can determine the freshness of the tree by gently grasping a branch and pulling it toward you. If you end up with a handful of needles, pick another tree.

Appearances alone can be deceiving -- and sometimes they have a little help in their deception. Some lots spray a light green paint on the trees to give them a fresh, green, healthy “pick me” look.

Keep the tree well-watered and monitor the water level frequently during the first few days when the tree is at its thirstiest.

If the tree is out of water for a day or two, it may stop taking water altogether. You can restart the hydration process by making another cut on the base.

One way to prevent a tree from swearing off water too early is to put it in a large bucket of water for a few days before bringing it in to be decorated for the holidays.

Instruction No. 1 for real tree owners -- keep the tree in fresh water. No nutrients or tree food is needed. Just water.

Other tips you probably already know:

-- Keep the tree away from furnaces, fireplaces and other sources of heat. Wood burns.

-- Make sure the wires and connections on lights are in good condition before stringing them on the tree. Electricity causes fire and, as noted above, wood burns.

-- I know I love piling presents as high up the tree as possible. Those who know better say we shouldn’t do that. Gifts and other flammable material shouldn’t be in direct contact with the tree.

-- Lights should only be on if someone is there to see them. Untended decorations could cause a fire and, if nobody is there to take immediate action, bad things could happen.

-- For that same reason, unplug the lights before going to bed.

When I was growing up, we always had a real tree. My mama usually made us plant it in the back yard after Christmas because she felt bad about killing a tree.

One of the yuletide trees actually survived and started growing again. The others didn’t make it.

My family went to artificial trees about 20 years ago, when the trees started looking like something more than pipe cleaners with green construction paper strips twisted onto them.

I still miss the experience of cutting a tree, or at least choosing a pre-cut real tree -- until I remember the sticky sap and the also sticky needles that go along with the tree.

Whatever kind of tree you have, I’m sure it will be beautiful with the many decorations that bring to mind the many memories of past Christmases.


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