This post is my contribution to the November APLS Blog Carnival, which will be posted on November 15 at the Green Phone Booth. The topic is “buying local.” In the spirit of the holidays, I have chosen to write about one thing that we always buy local: our Christmas tree.
We’re all bundled up and the air is chilly as we walk through the woods. We can both smell that snow’s in the forecast, and Jonathan and I hope that we’ll get a day off school tomorrow. It’s mid-December, one of our favorite times of year. We walk down the driveway, through the apple orchard, past the pond. The pond isn’t safe enough to skate on yet, but we know that soon I’ll be twirling on my skates and the boys will be playing pond hockey. We walk into the wooded area by the pond, looking for it: our tree. After walking around the woods with a little saw, we find our tree. It’s a little bit taller than me, probably around 5 feet. Jonathan cuts it down and we take turns dragging it back by the pond, through the orchard, and up the driveway. When we get home, Dad trims the bottom and helps us get it into the stand, setting it up in the toy room. Nathaniel was too little to help us get the tree, but we’ll let him help decorate. We string on the colored, flashing lights, and then throw silver tinsel all over it. It’s perfect in our gaudy, childhood style. Mom hates colored lights and tinsel, so she has her own tree in the other room. Mom’s tree is also beautiful, with white lights and apple ornaments, but it doesn’t compare to our tree.
When we were growing up, just the thought of a fake tree made us giggle. We couldn’t understand why someone would want a tree that was plastic or metal. Our family sold Christmas trees at our farm market. We’d spend weekends helping customers select the perfect tree and tie it to their cars to bring home. Our winter coats and gloves inevitably became sticky with sap and we smelled like evergreen. To learn more about the Real vs. Fake Christmas Tree Debate, go here.
Many people now are focused on buying locally produced goods, with benefit to both the economy and the environment. A wonderful starting point to localize your holidays is to buy local Christmas trees. Choosing, cutting, bringing home and decorating your tree will create treasured family memories. Ed and I have continued this tradition in our own home. My tastes have changed and I must admit that my tree now looks a lot like Mom’s.
In addition to memories, real, locally produced Christmas trees are good for the environment. It typically takes 7 years to grow a Christmas tree. During that time, these trees are a part of the ecosystem. They provide oxygen, clean the air, provide food and habitat to animals. When the holidays are over, there are recycling programs or you can place your tree in the woods, where it will provide food and shelter for insects and other small wildlife. To learn more about the environmental benefits of real trees and how to recycle them, go here.
But what if you’re a true tree hugger? You don’t want to kill a tree to celebrate the holidays? Here are some options for you!
- Get a potted tree. You can decorate it in your home and then plant it to enjoy for years to come.
- Decorate your trees outside. You can hang apples, orange slices, homemade birdfeeders made of Indian corn spread with peanut butter and coated with birdseed. Your tree will be beautiful and your wildlife friends will love it, too.
- Decorate other potted plants. My mom has hibiscus, palms and other plants that can’t survive a cold Connecticut winter. Bring them inside and string some lights and ornaments on them, then return to the outdoors when weather permits.
Whatever you do, be aware that the holidays don’t have to be environmentally unfriendly. I look forward to reading through the other posts in the APLS Blog Carnival this month to learn more about buying local!