Rich Lowry

Pass the eggnog, and the fire extinguisher. Then there's the environment. Greens can't stand the idea of cutting down a live tree, only to cruelly display it for a few days, then discard it by the side of the road. Here, though, the natural-tree people have a strong case: Fakes are destined to live on for countless centuries in landfills, while natural trees can be mulched and are farmed (and replenished) like any other crop. All that tree-growing contributes to the ultimate Christmas value, at least in a certain segment of America: carbon sequestration.

The back-and-forth arguments obscure what should be a common-sense tree compromise. Adults with no children or grown children can be forgiven for opting for the convenience of a fake tree, so long as it is not -- sampling again from Treetopia's offerings -- pink, candy-apple red or silver stardust. A decent respect for the opinion of mankind demands that even a fake tree be green. But parents with small kids must -- on pain of critical behind-the-back clucking from neighbors -- choose natural trees.

A natural tree is part of the delight of Christmas and what makes it a season of sweet anticipation for kids. There's the excitement of picking out a tree, setting up a tree, decorating a tree and -- of course -- finding what's under the tree on Christmas morning. It's all about the buildup, and the magical sense of the out-of-the-ordinary, to which having an honest-to-goodness 6-foot pine tree in the living room, shedding needles and leaning precariously toward catastrophic collapse, makes an irreplaceable contribution.

Once this compromise is accepted, we can begin to fight over the really important stuff: white lights or colored lights?

Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years .
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