MARTY RUSSELL: One season of fluffing and …

By Marty Russell

Every year about this time we engage in the same arguments. Stuffing vs. dressing. Pumpkin vs. pecan. Green bean casserole vs. toxic waste. State vs. Ole Miss. Cutting vs. taxing. Paper vs. plastic and, in a similar vein, real vs. artificial.
For most of our 26 years together, my wife and I have had an artificial Christmas tree, the same artificial Christmas tree, in fact. It’s your standard fake tree that comes out of a box out of the attic once each year and is divided into three sections that have to be put together to form something vaguely resembling something you’d find in nature if PVC were a naturally occurring element. That is, except for the time I decided to mix the three sections up, put the top in the middle and form a weird Christmas topiary that, just as would have happened in nature, didn’t survive the evolutionary process.
But something changed at our house this year. It began when my wife decided it might be fun and a way to get into the holiday spirit and make a little extra Christmas cash to become a professional tree fluffer.
Now just like Santa Claus and the 14 Field Mice of the Apocalypse I wasn’t sure tree fluffers actually existed. In fact, I’m not sure “fluffer” is actually a word.
But back in October, when the shelves were still piled high with Halloween candy and costumes, my wife announced that she was now a certified tree fluffer for a chain of home improvement stores. Certifiable I couldn’t argue with. But what the heck is a tree fluffer, I had to ask.
I had to ask.
“You don’t think all those artificial Christmas trees comes out of the box looking that nice, do you?” she answered. “Someone has to shape them, bend out all the branches so they look natural and can be decorated.”
Now normally the biggest argument between a live tree and an artificial one boils down to convenience. Artificial trees don’t shed needles, are reusable, don’t have to be watered and you normally don’t find small animals living in their branches. But what only a professional tree fluffer could point out is that live trees don’t attack you.
After a couple of weekends of tree fluffing, my wife came home covered with what looked like a rash but was actually small puncture wounds from being stabbed by plastic pine needles. It should be noted that the first artificial Christmas trees were developed by the Addis Brush Co. back in the 1930s, makers of toilet brushes. Imagine flailing yourself with a toilet brush all day. That, my wife found out, is what happens to tree fluffers.
So this year, when it came time to drag the tree out of the attic, my wife said no.
“This year we’re getting a real tree,” she informed me. “No more fluffing.”
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at

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