We always go find a fir or spruce that will look just right in our house, squeeze it into our vehicle, set it approximately upright in the old tree stand, drag boxes of ornaments and lights down from the attic, spend an afternoon decorating it, then remember to keep water in the stand, prevent the dogs and various children from tearing it down midway through the holiday, vacuum up needles as they die and fall to the carpet, then reverse the process after the holidays are all over.
An artificial tree, she says, would be so easy.
"But real trees smell good," I say.
She reminds me that she is the one who does most of the decorating and vacuuming and undecorating each year.
"But real trees smell good," I repeat.
When our daughter was young, we would hit the tree farms, maybe take a ride on a wagon to find the perfect specimen. We would have the guy shake the loose needles off the year's selection, then wrap it up in that plastic webbing that would make Spider-Man proud.
At the house, I would drag out the handsaw and cut a bit more off the tree trunk to make it suck up the water better. Then whack off another slice because I had cut it crooked.
Next, we would go through torture adjusting the stand so the tree looked straight and full-figured from most angles, leaving the worst view facing the wall. Then, the trimming ensued.
As the years passed, we kept getting natural trees because we figured the grandchildren would get a kick out of helping decorate them. After a while, we realized that their only interest, other than trying to knock the tree over while playing, was in finding out what packages might lie underneath for them.
Last week, my wife said this might be the year we bought an artificial tree. Maybe something smaller and less trouble. I didn't believe her.
Now, I believe her.
In our living room is Charlie Brown's Christmas tree.
Not a tree that reminds us of the sad, pathetic tree Charlie picked out on the television special years ago. No, ours is that tree, complete with wooden crossbar base and bare, drooping limbs.
The 18-inch-tall tree came in a box with pictures of Snoopy and Charlie on it, and the poor thing looks as though it is giving its last breath to hold up the one red ball dangling from its branch.
It doesn't smell particularly good, but it appears to require little upkeep.
I will never doubt my wife again. When she gets a notion, she eventually follows through on it.
We can't wait to hear what all the children and grandchildren say when they see it, but we have a pretty good idea: