It's the day after Christmas and I'm driving down Main Street, America. Empty parking lots are littered with remnants of Christmas Tree lots: make shift fences, homemade signs, and toppled firs that no one wanted this year. The scene was a sad one, especially to anyone who has a bleeding heart for forests and an oxygen addiction, like myself. I quickly found myself judging all the selfish Americans who require "live" Christmas Trees for the holidays. When did this become a tradition, cutting down (large) living plant-life and cramming it into our homes? And why?
One hundred or two hundred years ago this wouldn't have seemed so strange. There was an abundance of trees, and how wonderful to bring one into your home for a month or so, filling the air with scents of evergreen? Then together families decorated the adopted tree with trinkets and crafts they had handmade. After December 25th the tree was chopped into smaller pieces and used as firewood. This quaint image seems harmless and endearing. Not the picture I see now in 2009.
We continue our drive and so many questions pop into my head. What do they do with the trees no one bought? What do people do with their trees after Christmas? Do they plant more trees to replace the ones they cut down? The answers I came up with are burn them? trash them? and I hope so?
To put myself at ease I decided that yes, they do replace the trees. Christmas Tree farms exist only by the sale of Christmas Trees, so therefore must always be meeting that demand with planting more supply. I cross my fingers as I say this. I’m still not sure how to answer the other questions, and I bet there isn’t just one answer. My family has always had fake trees, so I am inexperienced in the art of discarding evergreen. Most cities have tree drop-offs and pick-ups, typically for a fee or “donation.” I’m assuming the tree lots utilize this as well, or re-market it as firewood. But since I’m no expert, do not take my word on this.
So at what point will our craving for ancient traditions be satisfied by modern realizations? I am no saint when it comes to the Christmas Tree phenomena; the fake tree that we use at one point required manufacture, which required resources and energy. The question I challenge myself with is just the tip of the iceberg and becomes so overwhelmingly complex when you begin to think of all our ridiculous, wasteful habits that I almost can’t continue asking myself the question.
My only solution for myself, which is where we all need to begin, is to keep the fake tree I have until it outshines Charlie Brown’s. After that I am starting the Christmas Cactus or the Christmas Ficus, or Tinsel Bamboo.