The Bright Side: Joe Bushue

It was pouring down rain, cold and windy. It was the only weekend when I could get my Christmas tree, and the weather wasn’t cooperating. This made me think about something I swore I would never do. I thought about getting an artificial tree.

Now I’ve always been a real traditionalist and taken a lot of pride in my trees. For me it was always the bigger the better. There are 52 weeks in a year, and I always had the idea that you could have furniture in your house for 50 weeks, so have a tree for two.

My favorite tree measured 17 feet from side to side. When people asked me where I put it, I just said “in the house.” When pressed farther as to where in the house, all I could say was, “In the house.” It was so misshapened on one side that it had room for a small toy train set. The thought of a perfectly shaped artificial tree was hard for me to grasp. So I listed all the pros and cons.

First of all, I could put up the tree day or night, and didn’t have to rely on the weather to get it out of the closet. I could put away the chain saw, hammers, plywood stand and cable guide wires to put it up. No more mud and dirt from dragging it from the rainy outside through the house. No more having to worry about finding a truck to haul the tree. No more having to keep it watered so it would stay fresh.

This was such a big step for me to give up a closely held tradition, I took a friend with me to make sure that I bought the most realistic looking “fake” tree I could find. We finally picked one, and by going over all the “pros,” I justified the $125-plus price tag and bought it.

Excited about starting a new tradition, I put up my new tree. It wasn’t as quick and easy as I thought it would be, but not bad. At least I didn’t have to worry about rigging up some sort of stand. (My other trees were always too big for regular stands.) After I put all the lights and ornaments on, I stood back and really looked at it with a different eye.

It was really pretty and festive. I thought it was a beautiful and cheery tree — if it was in a bank lobby. After I had done the best I could, I realized that the tree was too perfect. It had no personality at all, and would basically look the same year after year, ornament placement and all.

I soon realized that I missed going out in the chilly and sometimes wet weather on the hunt for a tree. I missed getting the truck and chainsaw, and building the stand. I missed finding a tree with some “personality.” I missed figuring out which ornament best fills any holes that are there. I missed turning the tree to find the best side.

As I studied my $125-plus “convenience,” I realized that as festive as that overly perfect tree was, it was indeed artificial. It looked more like something I took out of my Christmas decorations box, blown up and put in the corner.

That year was the most expensive tree I ever had, because I promptly gave it away when the season was over. One year was enough. Back to the good old messy days of cutting down and decorating a real tree, warts, hassle and all. While an artificial tree works for some, not me, thank you.

Merry Christmas!

P.S. Does anyone have any hints on getting pitch out of carpets?

Joe Bushue is a travel agent and lifelong Gresham resident who has been tolerating multiple sclerosis for 30-plus years. His column recounts some of the humorous sides of his disability and his slants on life in general. Reach him by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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