Does the High Price of Christmas Trees Feel Like an Obligation?

christmas tree

There have been stories in some of the local news outlets here in Mississippi about how the prices of live Christmas trees are higher than usual this year and continuing to rise. I am not sure if this is a national trend or just a local one, but I suspect that it may reflect the broader trend of rising prices we are seeing. I have certainly noticed this for food prices at the grocery store, though that seems to be about all I'm buying these days. I have two brief reactions to the news about rising Christmas tree prices.

First, it is unfortunate and I can empathize with those who may find themselves paying more. Much like rising prices in any other sphere, it sucks that the cost of living seems to be increasing at a faster rate than our paychecks. We'd all do well to remember that many of our neighbors are getting by (barely) on surprisingly small sums of money. Mississippi has a relatively low cost of living (one of few perks about the state), but it also seems to have lower wages. Anything that makes it more difficult than it already is for people to survive poses a problem. With as much as we have been hearing about some employers having difficulty finding people willing to work for them, we haven't heard nearly enough about what they are willing to pay and whether it is enough for people to live. I have my doubts.

My second reaction is pretty much what you'd expect it to be. I find it hard to get too worked up over Christmas trees in particular because they are about as far from a necessity as anything I can imagine. Some of us haven't had one in decades. And of course, real Christians do not bother with Christmas trees anyway because their bible clearly forbids them. So while rising prices are a problem, they strike me as less so in this case. So while I certainly can empathize with the handful of non-Christians in Mississippi who might discover higher prices at the Christmas tree lots this year, I'd just remind them that they are under no obligation to buy one. None of us are.

I am aware that some will protest that they cannot feel properly festive without a Christmas tree. I'm skeptical of that, though it may mean that they have become overly attached to a narrowly defined tradition. Perhaps they should consider expanding their tradition to provide greater flexibility or even re-inventing it. I'd say the same for the crazed consumerism and the sense of pressure many experience to buy gifts for people they don't particularly like. While it is true that we are expected to live this way, I'd note that we are also expected to conform to various religious traditions and don't seem to worry too much about doing so.