There are about seven trillion reasons that I can't have a "real" Christmas tree. I'm using the quotes deliberately here because I think that any item designated a Christmas tree is a real Christmas tree, but for the purposes of this post, let's specify: I cannot have a once living, now-cut down (or still living and hanging out with a root ball in a plant pot) tree of piney goodness in my house. Allergies, OCD, space issues, and a cat who likes to nom things that aren't actually designated cat food all contribute to my inability to have a real tree.
I'm okay with this. I grew up with an artificial tree, so the Christmas tree made of synthetic pine needles, wire, and plastic has never bothered me in any way. In fact, now that almost all artificial trees come pre-lit means that the fake tree is totally my jam. I don't have to put up strings of lights after I check to make sure that if one goes out, they don't all go out.
Because I've had real trees in the past as well, I also know that the fake tree is my jam because I don't have to water the tree. I don't have to vacuum up pine needles. I don't have to wait for the branches to settle.
I love my tree.
There is, though, a benefit to having a real, once living tree in your house, though.
The SMELLLLLLLLLL. Oh the smell. The piney goodness smell.
I love the smell of Christmas trees. Real trees? Smell awesome.
Fake trees? Or, at least, MY fake tree? Smells like the cardboard box it is stored in and the inside of my storage space. An indeterminate, slightly stale odor that is in no way festive and does not scream holiday cheer.
It doesn't even faintly whisper holiday cheer.
Fortunately, we live in a world that doesn't just make it super easy to get a fake tree -- it ALSO makes it super easy to get "fake smell of real tree."
Because just as we learned from Charlie Brown that not all Christmas trees are created alike -- some are robust, some are less robust, and some are just single branches from which one hangs a bauble -- not all Christmas tree smells are created equally.
This was reinforced for me when I came home happily bearing what CLAIMED to be delicious Christmas tree smell in a jar to plug into my air freshener, mentally checking "make the house smell like joy and dancing" off my to-do list.
Plugged it in.
Hit a button.
My house was filled with ... well, it was a smell of a kind. There may have been a hint of Christmas tree smell in there. I'm not really sure. It was hard to tell as it had been obscured by a smell that can only be described as "a heavily discounted manly deodorant" or, as I quickly began to think of it, Cheap Chemical Funk.
It was perplexing. We live in a world where science has figured out how to land a spacecraft on a COMET but no one who worked in the lab that created this monstrosity had the olfactory skills to determine that their new Christmas-tree fragrance smelled like sightly pine-ish poop.
"That's bad, right?" I asked The Fella.
"Yeaaaaaah," he said. "What's that supposed to be?"
"Huh," he said. "Weird."
It wasn't just weird. It was infuriating to me. Had the inventors of this abomination never smelled a Christmas tree? Were they sampling mutant trees in radiation saturated forests? WERE THERE ACTUALLY PLACES WHERE CHRISTMAS TREES SMELLED LIKE THIS?
"I can't even," I finally said. "I just can't."
So today, I ventured into another store and smelled EVERYTHING in it that claimed to smell like a Christmas tree. If it had a picture of a tree on it? I applied my sniffer to it and took a hearty whiff. This was not, by the way, the most festive exercise ever because as it turns out? Lots of things that claim to smell like pine smell like feet, Lysol, and desperation.
Finally, after smelling about twenty things, I found something that actually smelled like glorious, wonderful spruce-y evergreen-y goodness.
I'm not saying that I danced with glee in the store aisles?
But I'm also not saying that I didn't.
So, right now, as I type, the smell of Christmas tree lingers in the air. The tree -- assembled, decorated, and illuminated -- shines gently into the room. There are carols on the radio and there is happiness in my heart.
It might all be man made, it's true.
But it's as real as it comes.