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Long before Christ’s humble birth in the manger; before Joseph first laid eyes on the Virgin Mary; before Mary’s own immaculate conception; before the prophet Isaiah spoke his first words; before Moses parted the Red Sea, Joseph donned his technicolor dream coat, and Jacob tricked Esau out of his inheritance, there were plants and trees that remained green year round, and people who saw hope in their undying needles.

These held special significance to many ancient peoples (the Egyptians, the Druids, the Romans and the Vikings), as they represented eternal life, life that would return with the coming spring. They hung boughs of pine, spruce and fir throughout their homes, above doorways and windows, as a reminder of the bountiful crop ahead, and to ward off ghosts, witches, evil spirits and illness.

Old Christian family gathered around the tree.While this was generally practiced year round, they made a point of adorning their homes with evergreens on the winter solstice (December 21 or 22 in the Northern Hemisphere). They believed that the sun was a god and that winter was the product of his becoming sick and weak. The solstice (both the shortest day and longest night of the year) represented the beginning of his return to health.

Christmas trees didn’t find their way into America for several centuries, as the Puritans regarded them as a pagan practice and subsequently banned them, or any decorations for that matter, from the colonies. It wasn’t until the influx of German immigrants in the 19th century, and the social influence of Queen Victoria (who was depicted with her family around a tree in a woodcut in 1848), that Americans adopted the tradition of placing a full-grown, heavily decorated tree in the living room, as we know it today.

Of course, tradition  is often no-longer practical in today’s rapidly changing world,  and it might be time to take a second look at the Christmas tree. Here are a few ideas about new ways to do the old tree that might be just a little friendlier on the environment, the landfills, and the health of your loved ones – or at the very least, might add a little novelty to a long-honored tradition.

Did you know there an organization called the National Christmas Tree Association, which consists of a group of Christmas Tree farmers and growers? I thought not! But you should, as they offer a lot of information and ideas about the trees, as well as dispelling old wives tales and other untrue facts about your favorite holiday gathering place.

For example, did you know?  

Approximately 25 -30 million real Christmas trees are sold and discarded in the nation every year.

When an acre of trees is cut down, the daily oxygen needed for 18 people is destroyed.

80% of artificial trees are manufactured in China, and most are made with PVC and other plastics, which do not biodegrade and which contain enough lead to legally require a warning label.

Don’t let these facts depress you on Christmas! Instead, may we suggest a few other ideas that will bring you as much joy, without cutting down any trees or leaving a mess when they are so sadly discarded on the side of the road.
Potted tree in living room and planted tree in back yard.
1) Rent a living tree this Christmas and have a live, potted tree delivered to your doorstep! If you live in California or Oregon, it's a fun, easy option that’s great for your home and the environment. Interested? Check out or  

Simply choose a your favorite locally-grown variety, and the company will deliver it to your home or business. After Christmas they pick up your tree and return it to the nursery until the next year. You can even adopt the same tree year-after-year! Some companies also offer eco-friendly ornaments you can decorate the tree with. Be sure to go online to see if there’s a service like this in your town!

2) If not, purchase your tree at a local nursery and after the holidays are over, Plant the tree in your yard. Each year it will grow a little bit bigger, a little more impressive and will always be there to remind you of Christmas all year long.
Tree decoratad in the middle of the forest.3) How about gathering your family together to decorate a tree on your property. Whether it’s a fir tree, a pear tree, or a small sapling, it doesn’t matter, as long as you have an extension cord long enough to light it up! On the big day you and your family can bundle up, toast marshmallows, drink hot cider, invite your relatives over and sing Christmas Carols at the top of your lungs under your very own tree.
Tree covered in snow and lights4) Go for a walk in the woods, or a park near your home, and find a tree whose beauty fills your heart with joy. Gather up all your favorite decorations and trim the tree. Then, on the big day, put all your favorite holiday treats in a picnic basket, invite your friends and family to join you on a brisk, chilly walk, and surprise them with a decorated tree out in the wilderness! And by the way, the more snow, the better. When you have had your fun, simply gather your decorations and head back home for a tasty Christmas dinner.
5) If you want something cheaper, how about a do-it-yourself tree? The Yule Tree-To-Be Kit ($22.00) provides you with seeds to grow your own Noble Fir. This is a great idea for marking an important first, such as first Christmas together, baby’s first Christmas or any other happy occasion, and it grows in size and meaning as the years pass. (Don’t wait, though, because this item has been discontinued, so when it’s gone, it’s gone for good!) / Issue 154 - September 2018
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