SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Faux Tanenbaum, Part Two
By Dave Kiffer


December 23, 2005

Ketchikan, Alaska - Those of you playing along at home no doubt remember that the Glover-Kiffer family chose to go non-natural for our holiday tree last year.

It was a hard decision because I knew I would miss the smell of the dried out sap and the feel of pine needles still underfoot in June.

On the other hand, tree-in-a-box would not involve either sneaking a bull pine from someone else's muskeg or paying a Snow King's ransom at the local tree lots.

And, in general, it was as advertised. I avoided the muskeg trek and it was cheaper (we didn't buy one of the $100 pre-lit, pre-decorated models).

After we decorated the tree with the usual ornaments, it pretty much looked like any other tree that we had ever had. It didn't smell like a real Christmas tree, but a couple of tree shaped, pine scented car deodorizers could fix that.

The best part was the after holiday take down.

gif Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
By Brian Fairrington, Cagle Cartoons
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That has always been the part of the holiday that I have liked least. I used to think that the child in me left the tree up until Flag Day simply because I couldn't bear to part with the joy of the season. Around our house it was not unusual for broken Xmas toys to find their way to the trash before the half-brown, dried out old tree did.

But in truth it was the dragging out of the tree that was always the problem. No matter how many precious household knick knacks got "knicked" off the shelf on the way in, you could count on twice as many getting "knacked" off on the way out. It always seemed that the tree doubled in branch volume during its time inside our house. Must have been all that haloacetic acid in the local water.

The one time that removing the tree was not a problem was when the Glover-Kiffers lived in a downtown apartment building. Each year we would set up the tree next to a window overlooking a street corner. When the season was over, we'd "strip and flip": Strip the tree of lights and ornaments and flip it out the window. After shouting "look out below" of course.

One year, we thought we'd try dragging it out the hall the conventional way, but that left wake of needles three feet wide in the hallway. I'm sure they are still finding some of those needles to this very day.

Last year, with tree-in-a-box, the take down involved the replacing the ornaments and lights in their boxes and then doing the same with the tree. How civilized!

The fact that we were keeping the Faux Tanenbaum for another year, actually sped up the de-ornamenting process because I didn't need to go over and over each branch to make sure that I wasn't inadvertently throwing out any of the tiny heirloom ornaments.

You know the ones, they are usually a vague shade of green that blends in with the rest of the tree and you only notice them when the sun is glinting off the tree as it sits at the curb waiting for pickup.

Perhaps best of all, the tree-in-a-box did its level best to ease my sense of loss of tradition in regarding to needle shedding. It actually shedded a few plastic needles, the last of which I vacuumed up a couple of weeks ago as I prepped the living room for this years annual tree follies.

Naturally, things are not yet perfect. The plastic lower branches on the tree have developed a sag this year, leading to my wife to come up with the novel solution of "twist-tieing" them to the higher branches. Just try that with a real bull pine, ouch!

And our year old cat Max seems to like the Faux Tanenbaum better this year than last when he totally ignored it. Most days he can be found lounging amongst the twist tied lower branches, after he has removed all the ornaments, of course. Unfortunately, he will not be this helpful when the actual tree takedown needs to occur.

I am also waiting for our five-year-old son to ask why we aren't going Christmas tree "hunting" in the woods like some of friends no doubt still do with their fathers.

I suppose that in a year or so, I will have to take Liam out to hunt a tree in the wild. I will endeavor to pick the worst possible weather and then I will make him tromp around for "hours" until I find the "perfect" tree. I will share that part of our family heritage with him and explain that that was what his grandfather always liked to do.

Then he will understand why a tree-in-a-box is a much more civilized way to faux.


Related Column:

O' Faux Tannenbaum By Dave Kiffer - We bought our first fake Christmas tree this year.....


Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2005

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