After years of hearing holiday complaints about illness around Christmas, scientists have come to a troubling conclusion about the centerpiece of the festivities in many homes. Dubbed “Christmas Tree Syndrome” this mystery ailment may have finally found an explanation as scientists take a moment to look at the trees themselves. But will this syndrome threaten the institution of Christmas? Or is there a miraculous answer to the problem that still lets us keep the tree without the ill effects?
Upstate Medical University in New York discovered the coughing, insomnia, lethargy, and general feeling of malaise could be affected by the trees which collect mould spores while they’re growing and then later release this mould into the home letting it permeate the heavy fabrics of winter. Additionally, some may even have an allergy to pine that they are unaware of and ornaments stored in the attic could have gathered dust – sparking allergies on top of it all.
Of course a study such as this could not have been more effectively designed by the grinch if he had tried, causing people to feel that their almost sacred Christmas tree traditions could be harming them. But the results cannot be ignored. The spore count comparison between a home the week before a Christmas tree is brought in and then one with a Christmas tree in the home for a few nights changed quickly from 800 spores to 5,000. And many of these have been linked to chest pains, bronchitis, pneumonia, watery eyes, and a number of symptoms commonly attributed to the flu.
So what are we to do? Is this the end of the natural Christmas tree? How could a symbol so well loved by the west suddenly be responsible for the illnesses we feel around this time of year?
There is an answer, however. The scientists who conducted the study immediately established that the study’s intention was not to do away with the symbolic unity we all feel sitting around the Christmas tree, but rather to better understand the malaise felt in homes decorated by trees with shocking statistical significance. The steps he proposed to solve the Christmas tree crisis are easy enough. Simply hose down the tree prior to bringing it into your home and then leave it out to dry in the sun during warm weather. And after the holiday season is over, remove the tree to reduce the likelihood of catching ill. And a side note offered for years regarding the dust from the attic should be noted as well. Ornaments stored inside a closed container are less likely to gather dust, and if the container is covered by a simple cloth, it can be removed and set aside before taking the box from the attic. This way both the box and the ornaments don’t carry with them the allergens that can be problematic for more sensitive relatives.
And so Christmas is once again saved, and while we may still have to be aware of the allergens and spores coming from this peculiar disease, the much loved tradition of the Christmas Tree can remain in our lives unharmed. And maybe now we’ll feel a bit better as we gather around it and share that magical feeling of Christmas.