Pre-lit fake trees to please the Scrooge in you

Posted Nov. 28, 2008, at 5:24 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 10:42 a.m.

Call me Scrooge. Believe me, I have been called far worse.

But I hate Christmas trees. Don’t get the idea. Don’t want them in my house. I haven’t had a tree in my house since John Hubbard offered me a free tree from his vast land holding in Union. It was a rare version, one which was so dry, despite continual hydration, that it would actually shed in time with the Christmas carols being played on a nearby stereo.

It also would shed in time with the cats walking by.

Plus, I would end up vacuuming tinsel for the next few months. I only vacuum every few months anyway, so the tinsel became a distracting, entangling alliance.

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Then there were those damned lights which, when retrieved from the barn, were self-woven into a tight little knot with bulbs. Kind of like extension cords, fishing lines or boat lines if you leave them alone long enough.

The minimal charm of the Hubbard tree vanished in a flash later when I threw the tree on the St. George dump, which then had an open burning program. The tree burst into flames like it had been soaked in gasoline for a generation or two. That was enough for me. I had this monster in my living room for weeks with extension cords wound around the branches! Why didn’t I just light a campfire on the living room rug?

No Christmas tree has darkened the door of Cobb Manor since.

But now, I am thinking it over.

Naturally, during the Christmas season, Hammacher Schlemmer (“Offering the Best, the Only and the Unexpected for 160 Years”) has stuffed my mail box full of their catalogues.

I thought I was done with Christmas trees until I got to page 4. There, in the upper right hand corner, was “The 7.5 Foot Prelit Crimson Tree.”

How could I have been so wrong?

This prelit, crimson beauty comes already equipped with 850 miniature lights and 300 deep-red reflector lights! No searching and untying last year’s tree lights. Now, while I am listening to Nat “King” Cole crooning about chestnuts roasting by the open fire, I will be bathed in “a scarlet luminescence without need for further illumination.”

I always liked red because it is one of the very few colors I can recognize.

Plus, the powder-coated red boughs will accept the heaviest of ornaments. The tips can be adjusted, allowing the happy homeowner to adjust the drape and taper of the (crimson) tree.

Only $499.95. Minimal assembly.

Then there is the “Thomas Kinkade Illuminated Tree Village,” a steal at only $134.95. You probably don’t know that Kinkade is only “America’s most collected living artist.”

This 15-inch masterpiece is home to “over 40 hand-painted villagers and 12 homes nestled among its snowy branches.” There is even a rendering of the artist himself, posed by the skating pond.

But when we look at H & S, we always look for “the world’s best” item.

For Christmas trees they offer The World’s best Prelit Noble fir.” This is a fake tree all right, but professionally strung with the best lights available (now there’s a career) and guaranteed for life.

Sure it’s plastic but molded from a live Abies procera, or noble fir. Its shape is so realistic and its needles so soft that it was mistaken for a live specimen by tree farmers, the catalogue claims. I would like to meet that group.

Setup time is a mere 30 minutes, and all those arguments about “too many blue bulbs over here” and “too much tinsel” have been professionally eliminated.

Depending on what a piker you are (remember, it’s the holidays), you can get a 4.5-foot model for $149.95 or the 9.5 footer for $599.95 ($20 shipping).

Or you can go to the town Rotary site and plunk down $40 or $50 for a “real” tree, trim the branches, dig out the lights, replace the broken bulbs, spend a few teary nights decorating it, throw the tinsel at it, then go to sleep with an incendiary device sitting in your living room.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.


Send complaints and compliments to Emmet Meara at

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