Monday, December 3, 2012

The Christmas Tree Thing: The 6 Phases Of My Christmas Tree Evolution

During my life I went through different phases of the Christmas thinking. Each phase brought with itself a different look at the Christmas tree.

I am a very traditionally oriented person when it comes to holidays, as well as I am into the „classics“ of the romantic and nostalgic Christmas. And with such, there always is a tree.

Christmas has never been a holiday of gifts, must go to gatherings with relatives you don´t even know, and the stress related to shopping. All these aspects, which are often the reason why many people don´t like Christmas, has always successfully passed me by.

I also prefer natural over plastic or chemical.

So where do these thoughts lead?, you may ask. It leads me to my today´s topic – the Christmas Tree.

You can assume (and you will be right) that I would prefer a real Chrstimas tree over a plastic one. Yes. Most definitely. But being the person I am, with a huge sense of respect to everything alive, I just never could  bring myself to willingly killing a tree for it´s few weeks of  „glory“.

My evolution in the annual quest of getting a Christmas Tree went somewhat like this.

Phase 1
I would go with my family and cut a real tree in the woods. I found it romantic and very classical and traditional. People have been doing this for years. The sentimental aspect of bringing your chosen green beauty on the sleigh through the snowy landscape to your door step, as we see it on post cards, dominated my entire phase 1.

Phase 2
I realized that if every single person chopped a tree in the woods to bring it to their homes for a few weeks of admiration, there would soon be no trees left.
In phase 2 I became the responsible Christmas tree shopper and went to places where they offered trees to chose from, usually ending up with the smallest guy I had a huge pitty for.
But I hated the mess the falling needles created. And my ethical criteria were not met. It was someone else chopping the trees down, but it was still happening. So that led me directly to the smart Phase 3, where I remained for a big part of my evolution process.

Phase 3
I was the responsible Christmas Tree buyer, who decided to buy a tree from a specilized place. These trees were claimed to be grown and designed for the one sole purpose – a few weeks of glory. But there were still the needles making a mess, and more importantly, I started to feel bad about growing something for the purpose of killing it, just for those few weeks of glory. Phase 4 was enavaitable.

Phase 4
I felt really great in this stage of my Christmas Tree evolution. I bought LIVE trees, from specialized places, grown just for this. It was a long and happy phase. There were only few donwsides. One was the fact that these trees were relatively small, so if I wanted a big, bushy, rich family Christmas Tree, well, I could not have it this way. The smaller trees were charming though, and it was fun to plant them on my parent´s garden in the spring. Some of them actually survived and turned into majestic giants.
Also, the trees suffered a lot from the temperature changes.
But as I said, it was a long and happy phase. Until we moved to Northern Sweden and this whole well working system fell apart. Live trees in pots were no longer an option. They would have to be indoors since September and if they theoretically survived, they would have to stay indoors until May. It was time to improve. And invent phase 5.

Phase 5
Unlike all the previous phases, it was a sad part for us. We decided to buy a fake, artificial, plastic tree. It actually looks very good, but it´s a fake tree. It doesn´t make a mess and you can let it stand in the living room until the Easter holidays.
You cannot have candles and firecrackers on it as it´s artificial needles would melt and burn. But most of all, it doesn´t smell. It has no Christmas smell!!! Sad, sad, was phase nr.5
And adding to the misery was the fact of environmental impact from factories, making all those artificial Christmas trees and decorations.

But the fate was kind to us. And brought us Phase 6. And that is where we are now, for a few years already, so happy with the pros and cons that we won´t feel the need for evolution for quite a while.

Phase 6
Is all about combining the ethical and practical and traditional aspects of getting and having a Christmas Tree. The sentimental, nostalgical, classic need for a Christmas Tree, that we pick ourselves and bring from the woods through the snowy landscape, often on a dog sled or at least the quad bike, is satisfied.
The no killing of a live creature for the few weeks of glory requirement is met. The bitter feeling of watching a tree, that made it´s way through the hardships of the Nordic climate, to be chopped and kept alive for weeks of slow death is gone. Each and every time this reminds me of a story that opened my eyes. I highly recommend you to read it. It´s from a book called Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter. This story of a little American Native boy, living with his Grandparents off the land, then being taken away and put into the „unknown world“, also tells a tale of a Christmas Tree and how a Native person, close and binded to the nature as can be, sees the whole Christmas Tree thing. This story was my eye opener and led me to making a deal with myself that I would never let a tree suffer from those few weeks glory.
The fact that many others treat trees as unlively means of money, acutally allows me to enjoy phase 6. There are so many smaller trees ran over by forest machines, making their way thorugh the woods in search of full grown trees to kill. They are left there to die and they surely do, come the first winter. Sometimes we are making a new trail or have to trim the existing one for safety reasons. And sometimes mother nature brings a storm that breaks trees. And they all are the adepts for our Christmas Tree. The beautiful, glorious tree, that had a good purpose until the end, despite the fate.

All the kidding aside, I really am happy my Christmas Tree evolution went this way, hand in hand with my philosophy and sense for ethics and environment.

Are you also planning for a Christmas Tree this year? Why not give it a bit of thought.

Have a very Merry Christmas and do not forget, what this season is ALL about – love, family, giving, being generous, being kind. Not really about the Christmas Tree.

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