The Christmas Tree Conundrum

I heard a radio commercial recently singing the praises of locally-farmed Christmas trees. Eco-friendly, ’cause a bunch of trees are planted for each farmed tree. Natural, not full of plastic. Supporting local farmers. Smells good and all that. Sure. But, to me,  it’s still a dead tree which gets dolled up like a corpse, laid out for viewing, then tossed unceremonially after the “holidays.” I find the whole ritual depressing.

Which is why we have our own, more painful ritual: the live tree. No matter how small, those motherfuckers have root balls that weigh about two tons, and require two grown men, a lot of tarps, and much grunting and swearing just to get it in the living room—and then it still kinda looks weird. Especially because in recent years we’ve gotten other kinds of trees, like hollies and false cypresses, which don’t even smell piney. And then my husband has to dig a hole in the frozen ground (although, not quite so frozen as of late) and plant it—but lo! Behold! We have four or five trees in our yard from Christmases past that we can see every day!

For the yardless, giving them back to the city for mulching is probably the best bet. And then there’s always the plastic tree option, which I totally get. Unbox it, stand it up, put it back. Although the cancer-themed artificial tree is, to me, a total mind-boggler. Are there any other horrible diseases that get their own themed fake trees? And then there’s the whole Jews-with-trees conundrum, which Laura Zigman so delightfully animated here.

Meanwhile, we’re practicing our secular, Christian and Hanukkah songs (“Hineh Ma Tov” is new this year) for the school Winter Sing and getting ready to start opening the windows of the advent calendar my daughter picked out. Oh yeah. We have the advent wreath, with the three purple candles and one pink—which is actually the penultimate one!—but my daughter calls it a menorah. Every Sunday, we light another candle and sing “Frosty the Snowman.” Merry Xmas, everyone.

Mary Valle lives in Baltimore and is the author of Cancer Doesn't Give a Shit About Your Stupid Attitude: Reflections on Cancer and Catholicism. She blogs on KtB as The Communicant. For more Mary, check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.