A Christmas tree controversy


Adam Schasel, Staff Reporter

A variety of Christmas tree outposts are selling a wide array of Christmas decorum in the area. All Seasons, a local landscaping company, has set up shop on Stacy Road between Whataburger and the Village at Allen.

“We sell Christmas trees, firewood, light-up yard art and all of the accessories associated with that kind of stuff,” manager Mike Smith said.

Currently more than half of Americans use faux-Christmas trees, and, facing stiff competitions from their fake friends, there is always a chance that All-Seasons will have to rely on their other products to make a profit this year as more people make the switch from the realistic to the reproductions.

To combat the surge of fake trees, an organization called the Christmas Tree Checkoff Task Force was created. The program, which was approved by the Department of Agriculture, if established, would require growers and importers of Christmas trees to pay a 15-cent “assessment fee” for each tree sold. The money raised would be pooled together to create a marketing campaign for the failing live Christmas tree market. The program was inspired by previously successful “checkoff” programs for beef (“It’s what’s for dinner”), pork (“The other white meat”), and milk (with its famous “Got Milk?” campaign).

Support for the program has been generally positive throughout the Christmas tree industry, with support from groups such as the National Christmas Tree Association and the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association, but not from industry group Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association, which primarily consists of small rural growers that would not receive the benefits of such a campaign.

However, the plan is on hiatus until next Christmas, as it is in the midst of controversy, with some concerned citizens believing the program is another federal scheme to raise funds for the cash-strapped government. Even Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot chimed in with his tweet on November 9: “Obama=Scrooge. Obama has a new Christmas Tree Tax.”

However, this is not the case.

Defenders of the president say that the program, which would not increase federal revenues, was a levy that the Christmas tree industry itself wanted and had planned long before Obama had even become president.

“What’s being talked about here is an industry group deciding to impose fees on itself to fund a promotional campaign, and there are many success stories in every sector of the industry (milk, beef, pork, etc.),” Agriculture Department spokesman Justin DeJong said.

Whether the program is implemented or not, people in the Lucas-Fairview area already have their reasons for picking the type of tree they do.

“Normally we buy a real tree but since it’s cold, my dad builds fires, which kills the tree,” Sanders said. “We buy artificial ones now; it’s not as fun but still does a nice job.”

Sophomore Jordan Kirkpatrick likes the hassle-free mentality of her family’s fake Christmas tree.

“It’s just a lot easier to pack and my family is typically lazy,” she said.

However, despite faux-trees’ surge in popularity, there are some real-tree devotees.

“They smell better,” junior Abbey Ingram said.

She says issues concerning many fake-tree purchasers such as cleanup do not concern her.  For Ingram, a so-called “tax” would not make much of a difference in her purchasing decision.

“A real tree makes a real Christmas,” Ingram said.