There seems to be shortages of everything recently, from food items to car chips, all linking back to a supply chain crisis. There is one shortage, however, that is completely unrelated: Christmas trees. Christmas tree growth has declined for a multitude of reasons, including an increase in artificial tree sales and natural barriers like wildfires and droughts. The problem with tree sales is that they take around 10 years to grow, meaning that it is impossible to predict the demand when the trees are mature. During the COVID-19 pandemic, tree demand surged because more people remained at home over the holidays, meaning many trees were cut down that normally would have continued to grow until this year. The American Christmas Tree Association, which represents tree farmers across the country, predicts an average 15% increase in cost and a decrease in options this year.
However, Christmas tree buyers must remain resilient. Allowing the plastic tree sellers to win is a defeat for society as a whole. There are two options here: one can go the day after Thanksgiving to a tree farm and lot to cut down, choose a real tree or pull out the same lifeless, artificial tree from their basement. It is obvious which choice is correct. Part of the joy of choosing a tree is its imperfections, giving proof that this year’s tree is different from the last. First comes hiding the inevitable bald spot, then trying to get it to stand up straight because the trunk bends. Then come the burdens of a real tree: the tree needles spilling all over the floor, the daily watering, and eventually the weakening of branches that makes precious ornaments fall off and shatter— Christmas cannot be Christmas without them. One should be close to hating their Christmas tree by the time it is fully set up with the hassle it caused. Once a family opts for an artificial tree, what used to be their festive living room turns into what could be a store in a mall. Somehow, this green plastic manages to revert a home back into a house.
There is a reason the most prominent Christmas tree in the country, the 82-foot-tall one at Rockefeller Center, New York, is a real tree. Even though branches always have to be added to it to improve its imperfections, it is still a living, breathing tree. If they won’t abandon a longstanding tradition and switch to an artificial tree, why would you?