Christmas Tree Debate

There’s something liberating about cutting down your own Christmas tree.

The other morning I hiked around a steep hillside in an oversized red flannel clutching hot coffee in one hand and a saw in the other, all in search of the perfect tree.  It couldn’t be too tall or too short, too fat or too thin, and don’t even get me started on the needles.  I had stumbled into some Goldilocks holiday fantasy, all until we found the one that was “just right.”

After cutting it down, my family and I hauled this perfect specimen off to the car where we spent the better part of half an hour trying to tie the nine-footer to the roof rack.  As we hop in and start to drive away, my dad turns to me and, half smiling, says,

“You know Mandy, I’m really surprised you wanted to do this.”

For the past three or four years of my life I’ve been a devout environmentalist, though my parents prefer the term “recycling Nazi”, and I could understand my father’s disbelief in my enthusiasm.  But the truth is, I love cutting down a fresh tree.

From the crisp morning air, to the smell of fresh pine, nothing beats the experience.  And that feeling of accomplishment you get when you see your tree, all strung up and decorated, in your living room?  Sublime.

An artificial tree may seem better for our planet, but is it?  From all the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) used in their manufacturing, to all the importing and transportation costs, artificial trees aren’t as green as you may think.  The sad truth is that most artificial trees would have to be used for over ten years to counteract all the negative environmental impacts associated with their production, and most of them end up in a landfill less than five years after purchase.

So if it’s a toss up between what’s better for our planet, real or artificial trees, I’d take cutting down my own tree any day.

I’m going to spend the next month of my life looking up at that tree and appreciating its presence.  For me, that tree is just as much of a gift as any of the presents that will clutter the floor beneath it.  And recognizing the gifts we have- isn’t that the real reason for the season anyway?

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