By MARISSA SCHOENFELD
Most people have fond childhood memories of going out to the woods in the cold night air, running through the maze of trees, closely followed by a large man with an axe. Of course, that man was the person’s father, and the memory is of the annual family jaunt to a tree farm to find the perfect Christmas tree.
Trees are an integral part of the holidays. Choosing a real Christmas tree is a cherished tradition in many families. The look, scent and feel of a natural evergreen tree has become associated with the warm atmosphere of home at Christmas.
But the improved quality of artificial trees in the past few years has given the real tree market a source of competition. Dozens of web sites have cropped up advertising custom-made trees from heights of 2 feet to 21 feet, deliverable to any destination in the country.
Convenience and long-term investment are attractive deterrents from real trees and important assets for the artificial Christmas tree industry.
Mark McKasson, a junior from McAllen, Texas, majoring in communications marketing, said he and his wife will put up a small artificial tree this year.
“I prefer real trees, but they can be more of a hassle,” McKasson said. “Fake trees are easier, especially in an apartment, and there are no (pine) needles all over the floor.”
The National Tree Company’s web site at http:/www.nationaltree.com, which offers artificial trees “good enough to fool Santa,” gives a lengthy list of reasons why artificial trees are better than real trees: They are safer because they are flame retardant, their needles don’t shed, they offer a “fuller, more luxurious look,” they are more economical because they last for years, they are more convenient to select than live trees, they can be set up earlier in the year, and left up longer through the holidays.
Artificial tree manufacturers also offer a wide variety of tree types as well as flocked, frosted or pre-lighted trees. They even offer artificial trees with real pinecones.
But despite all the custom-made advances in artificial trees, people still tend to stay loyal to real trees. Juliette Paul, a senior from Sandy, majoring in anthropology, said she prefers natural trees even with the hassles.
“My sister wants a fake tree this year because she says it’s too difficult to get a real tree,” Paul said. “But I think real trees are worth it because they smell good and they are more traditional. I also think that getting a fake tree is like buying into the commercialism of the season.”
Jennifer Adams, a senior from Pleasanton, Calif., majoring in speech pathology said she likes real trees better because they are more beautiful.
“I think fake trees are ugly,” she said. “They’re too perfect; it’s boring. I like the flaws in real trees — the holes and the dead parts — because it’s more entertaining to arrange the ornaments to hide them. With real trees, it’s more challenging and exciting.”