I sat in the living room staring at our Christmas tree. I could smell the distinctive pine scent, feeling as if I was sitting in a forest, one with the outdoors.
The tree was lush and full, very tall, almost a high as the ceiling. It was over-decorated, as always, covered with hundreds and hundreds of multi-coloured lights. I remember some sort of rule. 100 lights for every foot of tree. Our tree easily had over a thousand lights and our ceiling was definitely not ten feet, they were the average eight-foot ceilings found in most homes. The ornaments were a hodgepodge collected over the years. A gold spray-painted macaroni frame with a picture of me when I was in kindergarten, a glass ballerina from when I was in ballet, an endless number of hockey, baseball, and football Hallmark figurines, a few added to the tree each year. Once the tree was completely decorated, only hints of green could be seen underneath, like the tree was a hanger, branches just arms that held ornaments. Some branches would dip dangerously low because too many heavy ornaments would be placed on one branch.
The final touch to the tree would be adding packages of tinsel or icicles. My Mom and I have had many arguments over the year over what those narrow strands of silver plastic were actually called. I always called it tinsel and she always called them icicles. We still haven’t come to an agreement over the actual name for them.
The tree looked perfect. It looked the same as it looked every year. Overly decorated and borderline tacky, I would always joke that it looked like Christmas threw up on the tree.
Yet, it couldn’t look the same. The tree wasn’t real. The smell wasn’t real either. The tree was plastic, the first artificial tree that we had ever had. So how could I smell the tree? I wasn’t going crazy; I wasn’t making the smell up. Tucked inside the tree were several pine scented car air fresheners. A dozen of them. If you didn’t know that they were there, you would think that it was a real tree. My Dad was sick, so instead of buying a real tree we went and bought a fake one because it would be easier to set up. He couldn’t tell that it was fake. How could you? It looked the same, smelled the same.
It’s one of those clichés, never judge a book by its cover. It’s true though, isn’t it?
Perfect on the outside, artificial on the inside.