By Amy Miller
We went to buy our Christmas tree last weekend. We couldn’t remember where that one cut- your-own place was, we weren’t sure if that other cut-your-own place was still in business and anyway, we really didn’t have much time for a sentimental ritual in between Benjamin’s basketball game and our friends’ progressive dinner.
So we settled on a 20-mile drive to get to the place two miles from our house. At Riverside Farms, you can walk through rows of trees arranged by size; pick your own shape and pay. Then a strong young man will tie the tree on your car for you.
At mile 8, though, as we were cruising Lebanon Road, we passed an irresistibly homemade sign – “Cut Your Own Christmas Tree.” So we took a U-y and the country road to the dirt drive to the weathered older gentleman sitting in his pick-up. Yes, he had rope and yes, we could use the saw in the nearby bucket. Head down there and chop, he pointed.
Benjamin wanted big. Lane is getting older (as in teenager) and doesn’t really care anymore. “Whatever,” she said, “let’s go, I’m cold.” We picked a biggish, wide-ish tree and sorta kinda tied it on.
At home, we found our white strand was dead and every third bulb on the colored ones was out. We did the unthinkable – we mixed little colored lights that blink with big colored lights that don’t. And it worked. Our 2011 tree was up.
I would have been just as happy to lace lights around a Charlie Brown tree from our backwoods, but my family will have none of it.
As it happens, 21 percent of us get real trees, and 98 percent of those are from tree farms. Sixteen percent of us “real Christmas Tree consumers” cut our own. And according to the University of Illinois, citing the US Census of Agriculture and the National Christmas Tree Association, about 48 percent of us had fake trees and 32 percent had none.
All told, about 30 to 35 million real Christmas trees are sold in the U.S. yearly. More than 90 percent of these are recycled and two seedlings are planted for every tree sold. One acre typically holds 2,000 trees and provides the oxygen18 people need in one day.
When I’m buying my tree I think of none of this, though. I think about how I love to sit by a fire in a room lighted only by the Christmas tree.
About the author: Amy Miller is a writer who works in the public affairs office of EPA New England in Boston. She lives in Maine with her husband, two children, seven chickens, two parakeets, dog and a great community.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.