As Christmas draws near, I feel increasingly pressured as an “eco-friendly parent” to resolve my internal Christmas tree dilemma without denying my family the Christmas tree magic I loved as a child.
Although I completely relate with Jerry’s Charlie Brown Christmas blog, from an ecological perspective it seems that tree farms are pretty good for the planet because they actually provide a continued “sink” for carbon dioxide emissions.
As a completely-paranoid-about-toxic-chemicals mom, I like the fact that real trees are not made from PVC plastics that cause cancer and harm the planet. Christmas tree pesticides worry me, but pesticides are a concern whenever crops are not organic, and I’d prevent the kids from eating the tree.
I considered a potted tree, but I’m not convinced it would thrive in our yard, or that I’d really want a forest of thirsty Christmas trees blocking all my beloved sun as the years pass.
So, because I live in a rural-ish community rife with tree farms, the solution seems clear: Just be selective about the farm I choose and cut down a tree without an excess of pesticides and other chemicals. No shipping to cause greenhouse gases, no packaging. Done!
But no, because I’m laden with a spiritual wet blanket: how can I celebrate the coming of a new year by killing a poor tree? I feel silly, like the fruitarian in “Notting Hill” who wouldn’t eat carrots because it was carrot-murder.
Does one really need to take “tree hugging” so literally that one cannot cut down a tree expressly grown for that purpose?
Yet, when we actually got to the tree farm, I couldn’t do the deed. We had wonderful adventures hiding amongst the trees, but I felt too guilty and wrong to actually cut a tree down. What if my kids have a similar feeling of “wrongness” killing a living plant? Do I trample that moral seed, push them to be more callous, less respectful of living creatures if I condone the tree’s death? When did I become so serious?
In any event, my dilemma was solved a couple days ago. Wild winter winds ripped a huge branch from our cypress tree and planted it on our driveway. It looks lovely with lights and shiny ornaments, and it was SO fun working together to create a fabulous design.
And maybe next year, I’ll be able to push that wet blanket aside and rationalize a family adventure to the tree farm where we do more than play fox and birds in the trees.
Or maybe I’ll just rent a tree.