By John Amato
As people begin to decorate their homes and apartments for the holidays, it is important to be very careful when selecting a real tree for Christmas.
First of all, select a tree that is very full, with thick branches. Always shake the tree to see if a lot of needles fall off. If that does happen, then do not buy it. When you find a really good tree, and bring it home, put it in the garage in a huge bucket of water, so it will be moist and suck up a lot of water to keep it turgid. It is best to wait until five to seven days before Christmas to select and put up your tree, so that it will last at least through Jan. 1.
Many people who select and put up their trees right after Thanksgiving will have a difficult time maintaining them until Christmas or beyond, because they most likely will have dried out significantly, which could then cause a potential fire hazard.
When setting up your tree, remember to place it in areas away from radiators or fireplaces, and use only UL approved lights and extension cords to decorate it—and never, never use real candles. Also, it is very important to monitor the water level at the bottom of the tree stand, which must constantly be filled to keep the tree alive and moist. That must be done every single day.
When going out, always turn off the tree lights to avoid overheating and possible fire. Finally, if you have pets, they can be very inquisitive—especially cats, who like shiny objects, which Christmas ornaments are. You may have to anchor the tree with twine and tie it to some strong object where you set it up to prevent it from toppling should your cat or dog decide to investigate it.
Follow these steps, and you’re certain to have a wonderful holiday season. After Christmas, you can bring your tree to one of several city parks throughout the five boroughs, where the Department of Parks will cut it and use it for mulch for flower beds and to spread around trees and shrubs to retain moisture during the spring and summer months.