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Using a natural tree for Christmas

First, as all wise dogs do, he sniffed. Yep. Definitely a pine tree.

So he lifted a rear leg, aimed at the tree, and let fly. Why not? Easier than having to whine for someone to open the door.

Dog owners learn many things. One of them is how difficult it is to clean up canine urine. But we couldn’t in good conscience yell at the dog. After all, we’d brought a pine tree — normally a safe spot for the dog to relieve himself — inside.

That’s just one of the hazards of having a real, natural Christmas tree. Others include pine needles all over the place, the failure of American ingenuity to craft a tree stand that is perfectly balanced every time, the need to water live trees and, unless you live in the country, disposing of the tree after the holidays.

Most Americans seem to have decided it’s not worth the trouble. According to the American Christmas Tree Association, only about 27 million real pine trees were sold in 2017. Real just isn’t worth the trouble.

There’s no untangling of strings of lights, for one thing. Most artificial trees these days come with hundreds of lights attached permanently. And if you’re careful and have a suitable storage space, you don’t even have to disassemble the tree. You can just put it away in January and, next year, pull off the plastic cover and — voila — a Christmas tree you don’t have to decorate again.

But there are clues to a longing for real Christmas trees. Many stores sell small pine-scented sticks you can place on the artificial tree, to get the desirable aroma. If you’re willing to spend big bucks, you can buy a tree that, at a distance, looks like the real thing.

Until you notice how perfectly shaped it is and how uniformly spaced the branches are.

It’s all part of a trend toward convenience, even at the cost of genuineness — a very real feeling among some people that modern manufacturing beats nature.

It doesn’t. There never has and never will be an artificial Christmas tree lovable because it is unique and thus, not “perfect” — but, still, incomparably beautiful.

Remember the wonderful time you and the kids or grandkids had in the store, shopping for an artificial tree? Of course you don’t, because you didn’t. Neither did they.

Try, just once, letting them browse through the Christmas tree farm to select their favorite real tree, then perhaps helping to cut it down and get it home. Ask them for help handling that bare spot. Have them balance it while you try to get the stand just right.

If you’ve never tried a natural tree, do it this holiday season. Put a little “real” into Christmas.

But for Pete’s sake, keep an eye on the dog.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.