Families start putting up Christmas trees, both real and fake
By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY - Now that the decision between roasted or fried Thanksgiving turkey is settled, the popular holiday debate now turns to real or artificial Christmas trees.
Nearly one-third of Christmas trees purchased in the United States last year were artificial, according to a December 2011 survey by Nielsen.
But tree lots in Salisbury still saw dozens of local families this weekend getting freshly cut trees for the holidays.
Betty and Doug Thiedeman, of Salisbury, stopped by Godley's Garden Center and Nursery on Statesville Boulevard to get their tree Saturday.
"Years ago, we lived out in the country, and we went down and cut our own Christmas tree," Doug said.
Now, the couple buys their tree locally. It's usually on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, though they don't know how that tradition started. Every year, they also run a train set around the bottom of it - first for their children, and now for their grandchildren to enjoy.
Betty said she prefers the smell, feel and look of a real tree, and Doug agreed.
"I guess there are enough other commercial things about Christmas that we don't want to commercialize it any more," he said.
But Godley's also sells artificial trees for those who love their convenience, like Misty Fisher and her 15-year-old daughter, Kelly."My husband threw last year's away because it was so complicated," she said. "We would try to shrink-wrap it so we didn't have to take it apart."
She said she likes artificial trees because they can be reused year after year, saving money, effort and maintenance.
"You don't have to worry about the tree drying out," Misty said. "And inside pets don't bother an artificial tree. It's just really easy and convenient."
Misty said that in the 17 years she's been married, she might have had a real tree for just one of them.
"I've never had a real tree that I can remember," Kelly said.
The Fishers said they usually take out the tree and decorate it the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Bill Godley, owner of the nursery, said the next weekend is usually the peak of his Christmas tree business.
"Because Thanksgiving was early this year, we get an extra week, so the next two weeks should be our prime time," he said.
Lately, Godley sells more artificial Christmas trees than real ones. He said people like them because of their perfect distribution of lights, full branches and low fire risk.
"Years ago, we sold a lot of big trees to churches, banks and office buildings," Godley said. "But because of the fire codes now, they've gone to an artificial tree."
He said an artificial tree lasts for several years, and it can be switched out with a real tree whenever the owner wants a change.
Bud Reed, who works at the River Ridge Farms tree lot on Jake Alexander Boulevard West, argues that there's just no comparison to the real thing.
"There's no way to copy the smell and that green color - no way to get it just right," he said. "And I'm sure everyone has memories of their childhood tree. When I was a kid, they were all real trees."
He said the busiest time for River Ridge should also be next weekend, but business was good this weekend, too.
Jillian Matney and her daughter Laura Carroll, 8, of Salisbury, both said they love the smell of a fresh fir tree.
They chose a tabletop version at River Ridge on Saturday.
"We have a new dog, and we're worried it will tear up a big one, so we're trying a little one to put on the coffee table," Matney said.
This will be the family's first real Christmas tree indoors, because they left their full-sized one out on the porch last year.
Matney said she wanted to find a small but sturdy tree that would hold 10 years' worth of Laura's Christmas ornaments and some new ones. "We're doing a theme tree this year, with dogs," she said.
Julian and Ann Bolt, of Salisbury, have used both real and artificial Christmas trees. Ann said she can see pros and cons for each choice.
"With real ones, you've just got to make sure you keep them well-watered," she said. "With artificial, you don't. But artificial does not have a smell to it, unless you spray it with something."
The couple has been using an artificial tree that they bought when their son moved out years ago. They would travel a lot and couldn't take care of a real tree, Ann said.
"But over the years, we've kind of gotten the idea that maybe a real one would be nice again," she said. "I love the way it makes my house smell."
Julian said the couple used to drive to the mountains to cut their own Christmas tree, but he's been having back pain and can't do it this year.
He said he still prefers to have a fresh tree, like the one they bought from River Ridge on Saturday that was cut in Jefferson.
"I think if you pull something out of a box and throw it together," Julian said, "it's just not the same as decorating a live tree."
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.