Oh Tannenbaum

Was it me or was November particularly dark? I often struggle with the time change but this year, it hit me hard. When I left work, it felt like nighttime, as if the whole day had passed while I was stuck in a cubicle. Even weekends felt rushed to me: the dark was always coming too soon.

I’m usually a strict No-Christmas-Until-After-Thanksgiving person, but given how dark it felt in November (notice the lack of posts?), it didn’t bother me to see lights up before Turkey day or even a few trees glowing in the windows. I need all the light I can get this time of year.

But at my house, we’re in the midst of our yearly debate about the central Christmas decoration: the tree. There isn’t much debate for me. I love a Christmas tree, but I’ve married someone who isn’t sure about cutting down a tree for 30 days of decoration.

It’s worth considering that it takes years for a tree to grow to even 5 feet tall, and to remember how important trees are, how they suck up some of that excess carbon dioxide that’s changing our climate. And yet, we’re not talking about taking down a Giant Sequoia here. These trees are raised for the purpose of decoration, and I also buy our tree from a forester who plants 10 new trees for every Christmas tree harvested.

There are alternatives to the Christmas tree, too Terrifically hideous alternatives that are as close to a Christmas tree as tofu is close to bacon, but alternatives nonetheless. (There is a reason that tannenbaum in German translates into ‘fir tree’ and not, say, ‘ficus’).

A live tree seems like a good solution initially, but as my parents learned, a live tree will eventually grow too large to haul inside and decorate. My parents were content to simply throw some lights on an outdoor tree and call it good.  It may have been environmentally friendly (perhaps more importantly, it was cheap), but it wasn’t good by any stretch.

My workplace has a fake tree. It’s at least reusable (even though a real tree is reused, too, when it’s returned to the soil), but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s fake. It’s stored in a large green plastic duffle bag that’s unpacked each December, and it’s about as festive as cracking open a costco-sized flat of paper towels. To me, fake trees just seem like a cop out. No one should have to bother with a tree if they don’t want to, especially in this often harried time of year. But if you don’t want to spend the time or money on a tree, get a wreath rather than a pretend tree.

I have some opinions about Christmas trees, as you can see. But this isn’t to say that a tree has to be perfect or that there is one perfect tree — far from it. The best part of a real tree is that there’s almost always something wrong with it, some bare part to face the wall, one side that is bushier than the other. My family’s Christmas trees weren’t always actual trees. One year, it was three branches of cedar tied together. And even I had to admit that once it was decorated with lights and ornaments, you could hardly tell that it was leaning up against the wall and had absolutely no back to it at all.


2 Responses to “Oh Tannenbaum”

  1. cryitout! Says:

    Oh ficus tree, oh ficus tree … it has a certain ring to it.

  2. Gather Near to Us Once More (That’s Nice) « Whole Hog Says:

    […] Near to Us Once More (That’s Nice) By wholehog If I came across as a little particular about Christmas trees, you can blame Meg and […]

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