The Artificial Christmas Tree, Part 1: Fake Tree, Real Growth

Christmas Tree in a Box

Christmas Tree in a Box

Sydney, Sunday

The first December after we moved to Australia, I asked a Canadian colleague, who had been in Sydney for a year and lived in the same neighbourhood as we did, where to find a Christmas tree. 

“It’s not easy,” she said.  “The fruit market gets a few, but they’re pretty spindly.  Most people have artificial ones.”

A Tree in a Box

I had always felt that for a Christmas tree to be worthy of its name, it had to be real.  It had to be natural and alive, drop pine needles everywhere, and most of all, it had to smell.  How could you have a Christmas tree without that wonderful sensory sensation, the aroma of pine trees and evergreen permeating the house?

In our Connecticut life, driving to a Christmas tree farm and cutting our own was a full-day family tradition.   I didn’t expect Christmas tree farms in Sydney, but was disappointed to think there wasn’t anywhere we could go for a lovely, living tree.

My late husband shopped around, and we got our first Australian Christmas tree at a local discount store, Big W.

Artificial Tree as Change Agent

There are hundreds of changes involved in moving and living in another country, and having an artificial Christmas tree was but one of them.  Yet this particular change taught me some lessons.

The more I got used to the artificial tree, the more I realised it was silly and a waste of time to mourn not having a real one.  It showed me I was too attached to certain traditions and too focused on what I mistakenly thought “should” be, instead of appreciating what is.

The tree is still the centre of our Christmas decorations, still beautiful when adorned with lights and ornaments, and still part of the family Christmas experience. 

It may be different physically, but so what?  So what if it’s from Big W and not the Christmas tree farm?  So what if it doesn’t smell like an evergreen?  It smells like Christmas in Australia:  the ocean and fresh, salt air.

It Is What It Is

The tree is what it is. It taught me not to get hung up on having everything a certain way, especially when it’s something that’s really not that important in the grand scheme of things.  Christmas is about a lot of things, but not about whether the tree is real or artificial.

I see the tree as a symbol of my gradual assimilation into life as an Aussie.  It reminds me that life and traditions change from time to time, and that’s good and important for growth.

Each of us is a work in progress, and to my surprise, I’ve come to not only accept but also appreciate the artificial Christmas tree.

Work in Progress

Work in Progress

More to come.

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