‘Oh Christmas Tree’, redux

The holidays are over and the Christmas ornaments have gone back into their tissue-paper layers. The cow’s tooth, the clothespin reindeer, the crystal seahorse and the slender, antique tear drops were all packed away and sealed into their Rubbermaid totes. Then, with a rain of parched needles, our old Christmas tree was wrestled through the door and set up on the porch. There, the kids (with their young, eagle eyes) gave it a final search for overlooked ornaments.

And then finally, our cast-off tree was dragged across the field to the corner of the woods that is known as the graveyard of all our past Christmas trees. My husband, John, calls it “The Land of Misfit Trees.”

I walked through there this morning, following a trail of needles, to see these gaunt relics of our Christmases past. I admit they fascinate me. This year’s abandoned spruce valiantly held its prickly boughs aloft amid a collection of the ghostly, skeletal remains of the trees of years past.

Such are the assets of an old farm… we have room for a Christmas tree graveyard.

But there are many ways to recycle Christmas trees that are increasingly making the typical curbside pick-up of discarded trees a thing of the past.

Chipping trees to make mulch for gardens is a growing trend in local communities. Discarded trees also make good bird feeders, and children especially enjoy setting up the tree in the backyard and decorating it again with popcorn and suet for the birds. Old trees can also be placed in ponds to make habitats and provide food for fish and other aquatic animals. (First make sure the tree hasn’t been treated with preservatives.)

 Old Christmas trees also make good, natural soil erosion barriers. Following Hurricane Sandy, the State of New Jersey used donations of old Christmas trees to help stabilize the shoreline and sand dunes.

In another innovative alternative to kicking that old tree to the curb, Note Fragrances, a business in Scranton, PA, is offering classes to teach people how to convert their old Christmas trees into a perfume. The tree’s fragrance is preserved using a process called tincturing, as reported by news channel 16 WNEP. Other communities, such as the city of New Paltz, hold Christmas tree bonfires for people to enjoy.

Already this afternoon, my tracks across our field are covered by a fast-moving snowstorm. As I sit here at the computer, I can see from my window the pencil wisp tips of the maple and aspen trees in our backyard moving in the storm winds. Although the house smells of the lingering fragrance of spruce needles, the holidays are over now and it feels like a long, slugging haul until spring. As my mother always remarked at the end of the Christmas season, “And now for the rest of winter…”

But, as each day lengthens with light, I wish you all the best and happiest of new years.


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