NO Tannenbaum
December 6, 2021 10:09 PM   Subscribe

 
Is there a non-paywalled version of this article?
posted by JustSayNoDawg at 10:14 PM on December 6, 2021 [3 favorites]


Try this
posted by cyndigo at 10:21 PM on December 6, 2021 [2 favorites]


A SHORTAGE EIGHT YEARS IN THE MAKING

Ok, but come on now. Seriously? *THS* is the year when the 8 year-in-the-making shortage is landing? Just coincidentally?!
posted by higginba at 10:38 PM on December 6, 2021 [8 favorites]


And here I figured this was going to cover the PNW heat dome scorching ~70% of new plantings & cutting yields by ~10%. Oregon's the top producer, there, so that's going to reverberate for a decade+. (Hope you weren't too attached to noble firs)
posted by CrystalDave at 10:49 PM on December 6, 2021 [7 favorites]


I got a small-ish plastic tree a few years ago. No regrets. Works great.
posted by zardoz at 10:53 PM on December 6, 2021 [11 favorites]


The cool thing about abandoning conifers in favour of eucalypts as our standard Christmas tree is that eucalypts naturally grow in a wide variety of interesting shapes, so a branch pruned off one makes a completely plausible stand-in for a whole tree. We don't actually have to kill anything just to be able to feel like we're participating in the yearly consumer death cult waste and gluttony worship ritual.
posted by flabdablet at 11:56 PM on December 6, 2021 [5 favorites]


I only discovered this year that some National Forests in the US issue Christmas Tree permits. We got one for a ranger district not to far from us and went up Thanksgiving Day morning into the Uintas to snag a 13 foot tree. So much fun for the kids, and if I understand correctly, the permitted areas and tree sizes/types are targeted to help reduce wildfire danger and promote healthy forests by selective thinning.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 12:47 AM on December 7, 2021 [23 favorites]


As noted on metatalk, bin getting a Christmas twig for 45 years. Bingle jells!
posted by BobTheScientist at 12:51 AM on December 7, 2021 [3 favorites]


I got a very small (75cm) €13 potted Christmas tree this year - I'm in an apartment, so I have no need for a big tree, it's alive, so I can use it for years to come if I take care of it, and it's not contributing to ugly and ecologically damaging clearcutting of local forests.
posted by kersplunk at 1:55 AM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]


A Christmas tree shortage is the plot of a children’s book which is a favorite of my kids. It’s been translated into English as both “Of Course Polly Can Do Almost Anything” and “Lotta’s Christmas Surprise”.

If you can find a copy for a reasonable price, or at a library, I highly recommend it for a 3-7 year old in your household, as a surprisingly relevant 1970s Swedish kids’ classic. The illustrations are winsome and charming, I might add.
posted by Kattullus at 2:31 AM on December 7, 2021 [7 favorites]


abandoning conifers in favour of eucalypts

Yes but then the yearly consumer death cult waste and gluttony worship ritual won't be pine scented.
posted by Thella at 2:42 AM on December 7, 2021 [8 favorites]


Some years I get a small rosemary bush. Works and smells (and tastes) lovely, long after the yuletide is over.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:03 AM on December 7, 2021 [15 favorites]


Pulled out our little old plastic tree which is from my childhood, and judging from the pictures of the children on the box (and the fact it was marked down to 2$) dates from the 70s or 80s some time. (Strictly speaking it's not our childhood tree- we sold that one when we moved back to Australia).

However, with a 1 year old, I did begin to wonder if there are gnarly chemicals in old plastic that I should be aware of!
posted by freethefeet at 3:06 AM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]


At the retail garden center, there were only 15 trees left at the end of the day Sunday. That was from our second shipment. There will not be any more arriving this year. It will be a sad weekend to come.

Quite a few folks mentioned that they don't usually get a live tree but were doing it for the children. We are also about out of artificial trees, all the inlatables and outdoor lighted displays.

Although I don't put up a tree, I really enjoy helping folks as they select theirs. We always give away the trimmings and I gather some for myself and make a wreath as a yearly guesture of hope for the new year.
posted by mightshould at 3:12 AM on December 7, 2021 [11 favorites]


Ok, but come on now. Seriously? *THS* is the year when the 8 year-in-the-making shortage is landing? Just coincidentally?!

Wasn't it last year that it started? I didn't get one - they were expensive and going fast and I thought I'd let someone with children get one of the few left in my local lot. I was cool with cancelling Christmas anyway, last year.
posted by thelonius at 3:12 AM on December 7, 2021 [3 favorites]


A blurb on business news pointed out there was a glut in the late 00's and distributors cut back future orders. Supply and Demand does not handle 10 year growing seasons well. We'll be fine in the '30s. (Well no, cutting trees should be a capitol offense by then. Save the planet -- get a Festivus Stick.)
posted by sammyo at 4:00 AM on December 7, 2021 [5 favorites]


Got a little fake tree for my Star Trek ornaments which stays up year round. Starfleet doesn't get a holiday.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:39 AM on December 7, 2021 [26 favorites]


We don't actually have to kill anything just to be able to feel like we're participating in the yearly consumer death cult waste and gluttony worship ritual.

But equally, you don't have to plant anything, either, which isn't the case for commercial Christmas trees. I think the right choice very much depends on where you live and how the tree is used on disposal: my understanding is that the negative environmental impacts of Christmas trees are associated with transportation, disposal and other logistics. If you can minimise those by way of locally sourced trees and proper disposal, the actual tree farming is a pretty good carbon sink, particularly because it typically involves tree planting at above replacement rates.
posted by howfar at 5:57 AM on December 7, 2021 [25 favorites]


TIL the platonic* Festivus Pole is actually aluminum, but to best capture the non-commercial spirit of Festivus you should just pull any pole-shaped object from a crawlspace and use that rather than buy one.

*maybe better "senfeildian": The Festivus Pole was a creation of Seinfeld script writers. There was no unadorned aluminum pole in the original Festivus as described by writer Dan O'Keefe.
posted by achrise at 5:59 AM on December 7, 2021 [3 favorites]


the actual tree farming is a pretty good carbon sink, particularly because it typically involves tree planting at above replacement rates

Yeah, I live in a Christmas tree growing area. Cutting a locally-grown tree every year supports local farmers and is a carbon sink. Afterwards the city collects and mulches them for use on city gardens. Plus it is a fun family tradition and makes the house smell wonderful.

Last year all the local farms ran out of cut-your-own trees because demand went way up with everyone having Christmas at home because of the pandemic. It was the first time in 18 years that we had to buy a tree from a lot.
posted by fimbulvetr at 6:10 AM on December 7, 2021 [20 favorites]


The cool thing about abandoning conifers in favour of eucalypts as our standard Christmas tree is that eucalypts naturally grow in a wide variety of interesting shapes

The problem with eucalyptus is that it’s the opposite of flame retardant so when a fire starts it just burns then explodes. As such California is trying to reduce the population of eucalyptus in favor of more flame resistant trees.

And cannot imagine bring indoors and decorating a cut down one that’s drying out for the same reason.
posted by jmauro at 6:10 AM on December 7, 2021 [5 favorites]


Laurie Anderson: "Germans bring trees indoors?"
posted by ovvl at 6:12 AM on December 7, 2021 [1 favorite]


We went artificial many, many years ago. My best friend, however, still does dead wood. He usually buys his tree at Costco, but this year the local Costco had zero trees. They aren't selling any. He was pretty upset at how much he ended up paying elsewhere.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:14 AM on December 7, 2021


This is reminding me of a tradition Mrs. Example and I used to have. When we lived in London, we lived just down the street from a day care center. Every year when they closed down for Christmas (usually about a week to a week and a half before the day), they'd set their Christmas tree out by their bins.

We would always salvage it, bring it home, and decorate it, getting a few more days of Christmas out of it. It was usually a bit drier than we liked, and vacuuming up the needles was a pain, but it was always nice to have. We have an artificial tree now that's much less hassle, but I still miss the yearly tree salvage.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:16 AM on December 7, 2021 [14 favorites]


I wish tree farmers had better PR. These are businesses whose long term model depends on increasing the number of trees in the world. Tree farming is one of the few industries where capitalism actually aligns with net carbon reduction.
posted by howfar at 6:21 AM on December 7, 2021 [18 favorites]


We have a Norfolk Island Pine and a Meyer Lemon tree that we decorate with lights and ornaments instead of getting a tree. My family usually plants more trees than we cut each year on some rural wildlands we manage, but during covid we all went non-traditional except my parents. They continued the tradition of using an Eastern Red Cedar which is an invasive where they live...guilt free christmas decoration.
posted by schyler523 at 6:38 AM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]


The best article ever: These goats will eat your Christmas tree when you’re done with it.
posted by Melismata at 6:43 AM on December 7, 2021 [1 favorite]


Yea! Progressive MeFites Rejoice! Who will be the one to post the meanest, snarkiest thing about Xmas trees? Post here to win internet points!

I'm not christian but I like xmas trees. We get one most years, or put up a 1950s era aluminum tree we got at a resale shop back in the early '90s. It reminds me of good times, it's a centerpiece to create new good times, and it's a seasonal thing, warm, glowy lights in the darkest time of the year. The turn of the calendar, winter solstice.

I work at a fancy-pants garden center on Chicago's north side. If you know Chicago, you can probably guess which one it is. We have savvy buyers who ordered extra trees early after last year's Covid Xmas showed that people saving money—by NOT traveling, NOT dining out, NOT going to bars and concerts—will indeed spend money on Xmas decorations. We still have a huge amount of trees, and are still expecting more deliveries this week and next.

I'll add that having the space, proper light, money and time to keep a live tree/plant that lives year-round is completely NOT affordable or doable for many low income people.

Hooray for xmas trees!
posted by SoberHighland at 7:04 AM on December 7, 2021 [31 favorites]


Wasn't it last year that it started? I didn't get one - they were expensive and going fast

Can confirm that last year's tree sticker shock was alarming. I did get one, but it was clearly older and less fresh than one I'd normally get that time of month, and I had to take it down after just a week or so--didn't make it to Christmas.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:11 AM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]


(I actually have no issue with artificial trees, and would likely prefer one, but the minimal storage in my tiny place is quite full-up. No room to store a fake tree in the off-season, not even the Charlie-Brown-scale variety I'd likely get.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:15 AM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]


Yea! Progressive MeFites Rejoice! Who will be the one to post the meanest, snarkiest thing about Xmas trees? Post here to win internet points!

Seriously. And the funny thing is, in spite of the holier-than-thou posturing, plastic trees are worse for the environment (and another and another). Far from real trees "contributing to ugly and ecologically damaging clearcutting of local forests", it is the plastic-worshippers who are the true monsters.
posted by star gentle uterus at 7:19 AM on December 7, 2021 [11 favorites]


clearcutting of local forests

There are no Christmas tree farms/nurseries that provide these for sale locally?
posted by rozcakj at 7:21 AM on December 7, 2021 [5 favorites]


We would always salvage it, bring it home, and decorate it, getting a few more days of Christmas out of it.

Obligatory Calvin and Hobbes.
posted by TedW at 7:23 AM on December 7, 2021 [7 favorites]


"Plastic trees are worse for the environment"

That could still depend - perhaps - on how long that tree is used for - I know some people who still use their artificial trees from the 70's/80's.

However - these days, most artificial trees are "pre-lit" - so - I am thinking their lifespan is far shorter - and therefore far more wasteful. The wires or bulbs will get damaged - and boom, most people will throw it out. (Myself - I just wrapped new strands around and ignored the built-in ones.)
posted by rozcakj at 7:25 AM on December 7, 2021 [4 favorites]


True. From the third link:
But the reality is that the impacts of both vary depending on how far you travel to get your tree, whether you recycle or throw in the trash, and, if it’s artificial, how long you reuse it for. It’s absolutely possible to keep a fake tree in the family long enough that it becomes more environmentally friendly than a natural one, in terms of resources used and greenhouse gasses emitted.
posted by star gentle uterus at 7:27 AM on December 7, 2021 [3 favorites]


I usually get a real tree. Last year I thought I wouldn't get one because *waves hands* but ended up being so bummed about it that I had to go all over town last minute to try to find one of the right size. I found myself trudging home across Soho through snow with a fourish-footer under my arm at like 10:30 pm a week before Christmas. Oddly one of my fonder memories of *waves hands*.

In NYC, the stands line the sidewalks with trees, so you find yourself walking through a lighted alley of pine scent. I like it. You can't make me not. And I doubt plastic trees are actually much better for the environment.
posted by praemunire at 7:28 AM on December 7, 2021 [7 favorites]


Cutting a locally-grown tree every year supports local farmers and is a carbon sink. Afterwards the city collects and mulches them for use on city gardens.

Sadly, because We Can't Have Nice Things, it turns out a mulched tree stops being a carbon sink pretty quickly, although as that Nature Conservancy article linked above points out, on net a cut tree is still (probably) better for the environment than an artificial tree, even if it's mulched.

I'm on team real tree in most years, but this isn't looking like a year for it because of gluts in previous years as well as the smaller crops in the pacific northwest:
Those missing Fraser firs for the Virginia school booster club? Steinhart said growers in the North Carolina and Virginia areas have seen a surplus of Fraser firs for several years, so growers such as himself decided to sell them instead into the Northeast and Texas areas, alerting their Mid-Atlantic customers about the pivot at the last minute. For many of the baseball leagues and girls and boys clubs that put on annual Christmas tree tent fundraisers, scrambling to find a new vendor became too big a hassle and they canceled.
If we can find one for a price that's only slightly higher than last year's we might still get one, but the word of mouth about prices and availability around DC hasn't been great. Prices seem to have gone up by 20% or more at local school tree sales.
posted by fedward at 7:35 AM on December 7, 2021 [1 favorite]


I can't speak for all of localities, but a Xmas tree farm has more in common with a farm or a fruit orchard than a forest. They're rows and rows of trees usually grown someplace moderately flat and then cut down when they reach the right height. There's no clear cutting anything, it's just another type of orchard.

I've seen blueberry and peach farmers having to cull plants from year to year because yield starts to decline. The end result is the same, new plants where the old ones were.
posted by fiercekitten at 7:36 AM on December 7, 2021 [22 favorites]


We have a plastic tree. I grew up in Australia, not exactly the friendliest neighborhood for Douglas Firs, so we used plastic trees as a matter of necessity and they almost become family heirlooms in themselves. We never bought a new tree growing up and neither did my grandparents. Why would one? It's the tree you've used for all your Christmases. When I moved to the states I just bought a plastic tree out of habit. And I still have it.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:39 AM on December 7, 2021 [4 favorites]


We've been using the same tree we got on sale post Xmas for 27 years now except for the occasional year where we made a big production out if cutting out own. But here that means loading up the truck for a day out in the woods and then selecting an appropriate tree from a Hydro right of way {area underneath long distance transmission lines} that would be cut down anyways. Hard to say whether the gas burned getting a wild tree every year is better or worse than the embodied energy of a fake tree spread out over 30 years.
posted by Mitheral at 7:40 AM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]


I'm not christian but I like xmas trees.

I don't think that is actually a problem......
posted by thelonius at 7:41 AM on December 7, 2021 [9 favorites]


Maybe people are thinking that virgin forests are being clear-cut in order to establish tree farms? I doubt that is happening at any concerning scale. And the few working xmas tree farms I've seen do not clear-cut their stock - the fields typically show cultivated regularity but as the trees mature they get cut here-and-there when the individual trees are ready.
posted by achrise at 7:45 AM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]


My grandson has attempted to explain to me that I have to have a Christmas tree so I have something to put Christmas presents under. I may find a downed branch as I did last year or I may try hanging Christmas ornaments from a lace panel, as a friend of mine did years ago. I told him his Christmas gifts were not in danger either way. Thanks for the post, OP!
posted by Bella Donna at 7:47 AM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]


I've seen blueberry and peach farmers having to cull plants from year to year because yield starts to decline

Indeed. Commercial peach trees only have a lifespan of about 12 years.
posted by jedicus at 8:02 AM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]


Here in BC Canada we have a tree shortage because much of our local farmland is underwater. I'm dreaming of a climate change Christmas. Yes, sink more carbon, please, as soon as possible.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:14 AM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]


Who will be the one to post the meanest, snarkiest thing about Xmas trees?

I was going to try, but let's just say that there are better things to do with actual living trees than cut them down, ship them somewhere, cover them with a bunch of garish single-use mass-produced chintz for a month, then throw them away.

For the broad spectrum of "Christmas tree" that doesn't fall under the above, I'll voice no opinion. But not a fan of that whole deal.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:21 AM on December 7, 2021


single-use mass-produced chintz

Most people keep their ornaments and pass them on - we have 3-generations of ornaments going onto our tree.

So - do humans eat fruit that comes from orchards? Vegetables? Meat? Fish? Actual forests can benefit from culling of younger trees - but Christmas trees come primarily from farms/nurseries - so - if they were not grown, that land would be either fallow, or growing something else for people to buy.

The best use apparently of all resources on this planet (even those that are renewable), is for humanity to dissapear or consume absolutely nothing - which will likely happen soon enough. Merry Happy Whatever!
posted by rozcakj at 8:27 AM on December 7, 2021 [5 favorites]


My parents gave up on real trees after a year when our real tree fell over several times, damaging a handful of old ornaments (though, thankfully, not the 60+ year old heirloom). It was no longer worth the hassle, and fake trees look realistic enough if you don't get the pre-lit ones to not matter. Personally, in my adulthood, I'm too damn lazy to even decorate, let alone get a small tree.
posted by SansPoint at 8:31 AM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]


Maybe people are thinking that virgin forests are being clear-cut in order to establish tree farms? I doubt that is happening at any concerning scale. And the few working xmas tree farms I've seen do not clear-cut their stock - the fields typically show cultivated regularity but as the trees mature they get cut here-and-there when the individual trees are ready.

You know...I don't blame anyone for not knowing this generally (and I imagine this isn't universally true, and furthermore comparing environmental impacts is pretty complex), but people getting unpleasant about "clear-cutting forests" before even bothering to find this out...I could really do with less of such knee-jerk "activism." Christmas tree farms aren't a new invention!

I think most people save and reuse many ornaments? I've been putting together a collection to achieve my desired aesthetic for ten-plus years now. My mom still has some ornaments from my childhood. But if you're going to go after mass-produced chintz, boy, Christmas trees are a weird place to start.
posted by praemunire at 8:32 AM on December 7, 2021 [12 favorites]


I was going to try, but let's just say that there are better things to do with actual living trees than cut them down, ship them somewhere, cover them with a bunch of garish single-use mass-produced chintz for a month, then throw them away.

Going to have to deduct points for failing to call anyone, including posters in this very thread, either gluttons or death cultists.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:36 AM on December 7, 2021 [17 favorites]


This is really interesting. I had elementary school friends who lived on a cut-your-own tree farm. (They also boarded horses, taught kids riding lessons, and, in retrospect may have been involved in some victimless crime.) It was a really fun place to visit. I didn't realize how competitive the business was. I now wonder how they paid to water a tree for six years and sold it for $25, even on family land.

I've been living as a well-off person for a while now. But, do people really know how much a tree costs? I know how much a banana, or a train ticket, or jar of acetaminophen costs. Somehow I would have expected novelty holiday items to live in a category where very few knowledgeable consumers exist and the seller can more or less set any price. Who visits more than one tree vendor?
posted by eotvos at 8:37 AM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]


death cultists

Sun worshipper over here, eagerly awaiting winter solstice holiday extravaganza so that the days begin getting longer again!

I now wonder how they paid to water a tree for six years and sold it for $25

They are stealing that community water which falls from the sky! That belongs to all of us! Greedy bastards.

(Free-loading natural forests should be ashamed, growing all over the place, taking the water)

I know how much a banana ... costs

‘It’s one banana, Michael. What could it cost, $10?’

/s (Feeling salty, leaving now)
posted by rozcakj at 8:41 AM on December 7, 2021 [6 favorites]


But, do people really know how much a tree costs? . . .Who visits more than one tree vendor?

In a given year? Probably most folks only try one, maybe two vendors in a year, and certainly a lot of people have a traditional favorite they patronize every year without comparison shopping. However, trees are a thing that people (people of a mind to buy them, anyway) buy annually, and therefore have a pretty significant data set about how much it generally costs. When the cost jumps significantly, folks will notice.

Like, you might not (I certainly don't) know the exact amount of your gas bill off hand, but you almost certainly have a general range in your mind, and you're going to notice a serious outlier.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:43 AM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]


But, do people really know how much a tree costs?

The fact that there are answers to this question is part of the whole problem
posted by elkevelvet at 8:57 AM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]


In the mid-late 80s we were pretty broke af, and while my parents were away to something my sister, who was looking forward to christmas, decided to enlist me in decorating my mom's Jade Plant.

Ya make do, ya make do.
posted by symbioid at 8:58 AM on December 7, 2021 [9 favorites]


My grandparents bought an artificial tree in the 90s, and each year around this time we would all go and help them set it up and decorate it. They have both passed on, and I ended up with their tree. Getting it out of the box and setting it up is a nice way of connecting with those old memories.
posted by eckeric at 9:00 AM on December 7, 2021 [4 favorites]


We don't actually have to kill anything just to be able to feel like we're participating in the yearly consumer death cult waste and gluttony worship ritual.

I've no use for the consumer death cult, but you can have my gluttony worship ritual when you pry it from my cold, dead hands
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:01 AM on December 7, 2021 [9 favorites]


We don't actually have to kill anything just to be able to feel like we're participating in the yearly consumer death cult waste and gluttony worship ritual

So, Fruitarians then?
posted by achrise at 9:07 AM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]


I acknowledge that my plastic tree is not great, environmentally speaking, even though I've kept using the same tree for almost 15 years. I still prefer artificial, because the last time I got a real tree, it was full of spiders and bugs, and just a few years ago, a coworker bought a tree off a lot, got it set up in the house, and once it had warmed up to room temperature, the hornet nest in the tree made its presence known...
posted by xedrik at 9:09 AM on December 7, 2021 [6 favorites]


Fruitarians can't be gluttons?

"Carrot Juice is Murder" - The Arrogant Worms

Listen up brothers and sisters, come hear my desperate tale
I speak of our friends of nature, trapped in the dirt like a jail
Vegetables live in oppresion, served on our tables each night
The killing of veggies is madness, I say we take up the fight
Salads are only for murderers, cole slaw's a fascist regime
Don't think that they don't have feelings, just 'cause a radish can't
Scream

Chorus
I've heard the screams of the vegetables (scream scream
Scream)
Watching their skins being peeled (Having their insides
Revealed)
Grated and steamed with no mercy (burning off calories)
How do you think that feels (bet it hurts really bad)
Carrot Juice constitutes murder (and that's a real crime)
Greenhouses prisons for slaves (let my vegetables grow)
It's time to stop all this gardening (it's as dirty as hell)
Let's call a spade a spade (is a spade is a spade...)
I saw a man eating celery, so I beta him black and blue
If he ever touches a sprout again, I'll bite him clean in two
I'm a political prisoner trapped in a windowless cage
'cause I stopped the slughter of turnips by killing three men in a
Rage
I told the judge when he sentenced me, this is my finest hour
I'd kill those farmers again just to save one more cauliflower

Chorus
How low as people do we dare to stoop
Making young broccoli's bleed in the soup
Untie your beans, uncage your tomatoes, let ptted plants free
Don't mash that potatoe
I've heard the screams of the vegetables (scream scream
Scream)
Watching their skins being peeled (fates in the stir fry are
Sealed)
Grated and steamed with no mercy (you fat gourmet slob)
How do you think that feels (leave them out in the fields)
Carrot Juice constitutes murder (V8's genocide)
Greenhouses prisons for slaves (yes your compost's a grave)
It's time to stop all this gardening (take up macram_)
Let's call a spade a spade (is a spade is a spade...)
Power to the peas
Give peas a chance
All we are saying is give peas a chance
posted by rozcakj at 9:14 AM on December 7, 2021 [5 favorites]


I cut down my own Christmas tree every year, but I stalk it for a few hours first. I bagged a seventy-eight pointer last season. I surprised him in a clearing. He was just standing there, growing and throwing off oxygen like there was no tomorrow, dreaming his evergreen dreams. Oh, he was cunning. He thought he'd be safe there in front of the courthouse.

But when I got him home, he was still alive. I should have put him out of his misery, but 'twas the season to be jolly. So I put him in water to make sure he didn't die too quickly. Then I drilled thumbscrews into his little trunk and dressed him up with humiliating balls and stringed tin junk.

The whole family piled presents at his feet, and, just for a tease, we led him to believe they were his. While the rest of us celebrated the coming of he Prince of peace in the spirit of goodwill to all mankind, he withered and died in my living room.

At last he surrendered his essence into the air he helped create, leaving the sweet scent of his corpse as one las gift to the lumbering race. Finally, I ditched him in my neighbor's yard.


--A. Whitney Brown
From the chapter "The environment, or the tale of the old tar" in The Big Picture: An American Commentary, 1991
[I saw this on one of his Big Picture segments on SNL when it first aired, but couldn't find a video clip]
posted by indexy at 9:21 AM on December 7, 2021 [9 favorites]


Can't put candles in a plastic tree.
posted by Dysk at 9:28 AM on December 7, 2021


Having allergies, I hate a real tree. Moving moldy pollen filled trees indoors is terrible for the sinuses. And I don't enjoy killing a tree.

Plastic trees are not as pretty but they do come in fun colors!
posted by tiny frying pan at 9:35 AM on December 7, 2021 [3 favorites]


cover them with a bunch of garish single-use mass-produced chintz for a month, then throw them away.

posted by aspersioncast


We still doing that eponysterical thing?
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 10:22 AM on December 7, 2021 [8 favorites]


Some years I get a small rosemary bush. Works and smells (and tastes) lovely, long after the yuletide is over.
Sorry not to participate in the sanctimonious scolding, but I thought I’d mention Trader Joe’s has little rosemary plants trimmed into an Xmas tree shape for $10. Smells lovely and you can cook with it, though I do miss the traditional spring burning of the dried-out tree.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 10:26 AM on December 7, 2021 [5 favorites]


There are no Christmas tree farms/nurseries that provide these for sale locally?

Local context that was left out: Ireland is one of the least forested countries in Europe, due to human actions over centuries. There are incentives for reforestation, but there's no money in indigenous forest (broadleaf temperate rainforest), so people plant fast-growing imported conifers, creating forests with minimal biodiversity, then clear-cut them, leaving large areas of upland Ireland looking like the surface of the moon. The state forestry company Coillte is one of the worst offenders for this.
posted by kersplunk at 10:27 AM on December 7, 2021 [6 favorites]


One of the things I dislike about the holiday season is that everybody's virtue signaling ratchets up a couple points on the official IBTY scale.

It's easier than you'd think to care about things without denigrating other people who don't care about a given subject than you do.

That said, what did people think was going to happen the year following a global pandemic in which retail across the board was down (except for ammunition, of course) in a niche market where you have to plan out your supply sources years ahead of time? Oh, and because the demand is totally based on feelings rather than actual consumption you find that any of your supply that you didn't sell loses %98 of its value overnight.
posted by Sphinx at 10:29 AM on December 7, 2021 [5 favorites]


I have a little 1 foot plastic tree with lights and ornaments and everything. I won’t put it up because I have two cats, who would eat thrnornimrnts, doing neither cst nor tree any favors.

I was on a zoom meeting where we took a moment to learn to gold and cut at surprisingly cute little tree from a sheet of copier paper. I made one, and, in less than half an hour, my younger cat had stolen it….
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:34 AM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]


Like, you might not (I certainly don't) know the exact amount of your gas bill off hand, but you almost certainly have a general range in your mind, and you're going to notice a serious outlier.

Right. A tree generally costs around $25, often less, often free if they are small enough. If you buy an older, taller tree, it's more. A cut Christmas tree goes from around $50-$200 for a 7-8ft tree.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:40 AM on December 7, 2021


When I was maybe 9 years old, I was helping get ornaments from the attic when I discovered an old tabletop tree in its box in the attic. I thought it was great so I brought it down, and I ended up putting that little tree up in my bedroom every year. The second or third year I grabbed a couple strings of lights we never used and lit it up. My parents thought I was weird, but then my mom commented that it was very pretty with all the lights. It's probably still in her attic with both strings of lights left on. Too bad one of our cats has a habit of chewing on loose plastic. It would amuse me to have it again.
posted by fedward at 10:47 AM on December 7, 2021 [4 favorites]


Not signaling virtue, signaling laziness: Team Norfolk Pine!
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 11:02 AM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]


I've seen trees for sale all over the place, as always. I do not think they are scarce here. But since we are currently living in a too-small living room / kitchen, I prefer 2d trees. This one from Ikea does a fine job. It's just a print on cotton fabric but when you decorate it it looks very convincing.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:34 AM on December 7, 2021 [6 favorites]


I'm wondering if towns are still spraying trees to prevent poaching.
posted by Marky at 11:50 AM on December 7, 2021 [1 favorite]


I’ve seen tumbleweeds sprayed some kind of color (usually silver) and used and one year we had a juniper my father cut down in his yard.

As someone said up thread, ya make do.

Me, I’m holding out for the old school aluminum one with a color wheel.
posted by cybrcamper at 12:05 PM on December 7, 2021 [7 favorites]


I had real vs artificial argument with my late husband for 18 years, he grew up with artificial and I was dead-set against it. I would rather have no tree than artificial, he agreed that no tree was a good idea because the whole fuss of seasonal decoration annoyed him, and so we only had a tree every few years when I cared enough to do it all myself.

I tried a living pine twice, both times I could not keep it alive for a full year. I am very bad with plants.

Now I cohabit with someone for whom an actual pine tree is a very crucial part of a very important holiday experience. We got a very tiny one this year, for the same price we paid for a larger one last year. My cat is, as I type this, chewing on a branch. But at least they can't climb it this year, it's too small. They could maybe sit on it.
posted by buildmyworld at 12:33 PM on December 7, 2021 [6 favorites]


Toward the end of the growing season here in Vermont, I made a successful clone from my tallest pot plant. It's indoors now and about a foot tall. I think it would look nice with lights.
posted by MtDewd at 1:02 PM on December 7, 2021 [8 favorites]


My cat is, as I type this, chewing on a branch. But at least they can't climb it this year, it's too small. They could maybe sit on it.

The most festive tree topper!
posted by cynical pinnacle at 2:06 PM on December 7, 2021 [6 favorites]


the last time I got a real tree, it was full of spiders and bugs, and just a few years ago, a coworker bought a tree off a lot, got it set up in the house, and once it had warmed up to room temperature, the hornet nest in the tree made its presence known

What? Did they not shake the tree? Everyone knows you must shake the tree!

That was always my job during the tree-putting-up ritual, as a kid. I was issued a set of "fireplace gloves" (leather welding gloves of unknown origin) and expected to go outside, manhandle the tree out of the bucket of water that it was sitting in (or, depending on the year, the hunk of ice that it was frozen into, which had to be chiseled off), carry it over to a stump or large rock or something, and shake/bang it for a solid 15 minutes. Which, in retrospect, seems excessive and probably had something to do with my parents just wanting me out of the house for a bit.

But it did get the bugs and dead needles out!

At our most recent tree-farm excursion, I was somewhat scandalized to see that they had a tree-shaking machine. BRB, gonna go find my typewriter and start working on my manifesto.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:41 PM on December 7, 2021 [12 favorites]


I don't like real trees primarily because I am sensitive to smells, including the smell of pine trees.
posted by that girl at 2:55 PM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]


Haven't had a tree in years. I have lots of ornaments, but no energy for the amount of effort. I put up strings of LED lights, which I am enjoying. Once got a string of outdoor lights for my brother that played truly awful midi music, just to annoy a mean neighbor. My son is trying to convince me to have a tree, but I would be the one taking it down, one of the most depressing tasks of all time.

I love shopping at thrift stores, and there's always a huge quantity of Christmas stuff, just enormous piles of it. The tree itself, I can't see plastic as environmentally preferable, but all the other crap - ornaments, extra sets of dishes, Christmas doormats, random tacky decorations - constitute an environmental nightmare, to say nothing of design atrocity. People who get rid of their real tree with the lights still on it are dicks.
posted by theora55 at 3:05 PM on December 7, 2021 [1 favorite]


Big local news tonight...Thieves have stolen xmas trees from a church’s display.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:32 PM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]




TIL the platonic* Festivus Pole is actually aluminum, but to best capture the non-commercial spirit of Festivus you should just pull any pole-shaped object from a crawlspace and use that rather than buy one.

Pro tip from my college days: the standard-width aluminum pole you get to hold together your metal shelving unit is an aesthetically-pleasing 6 feet tall, and is 1/8 inch smaller than the mouth of a 1.75 liter bottle of Jack Daniels. Filled 2/3 of the way with sand or water, it makes the perfect base for your Festivus pole needs. Should you find your bottle not yet empty, may I recommend enlisting the help of your friends before the traditional meal of meatloaf & pasta with red sauce, and the Feats of Strength?
posted by Mayor West at 7:24 PM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]


Team Ceramic Tree looks down on you all.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:58 PM on December 7, 2021 [4 favorites]


My roommate and I are both on Team Real Tree (I'm indifferent, he prefers the smell), but there is literally no room in this new apartment to put anything so right now we are team Nada.

And....honestly I'm kind of relieved. I'm in the midst of a huge project at work and haven't had much bandwidth to decorate anyway, save for putting up a couple fake garlands around my window and some LED lights around a doorway, and putting out a bunch of candles, and that's actually working just fine for me. I also got out a couple of the antique toys I set out every year (there's this antique wind-up Santa doll that I think my grandmother had that I somehow have, and it's that perfect so-creepy-it's-cute kind of thing). Maybe if I'm ambitious enough I'll do something I saw where you rig up a wall-hanging sort of thing made of either garland or lights, where you do a tree outline on your wall, but it's probably more likely that I will just use that time to make yet another batch of cookies. Or maybe I will skulk around one of the tree lots in the city to see if they have any branches they're getting rid of and grab a few and put them up on the walls with Command hooks or something.

We had an idle "what would EC do if her roommate moved out" conversation once, and we realized that if my roommate moved out I could afford to stay in the apartment on my own, so if that ever does happen someday there will be a little more room and floor space for more decor. But for now, I think I'm actually good with just lights.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:07 AM on December 8, 2021 [2 favorites]


The Evergleam Aluminum Christmas Tree

We can admire it for its very high strength-to-weight ratio.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:26 AM on December 8, 2021 [3 favorites]


If you do get a Christmas just be sure and water it properly, turn off your lights when you sleep and keep it away from all heat sources.

Several years ago I woke up on Christmas morning at about 3am to a crashing sound and looked out my eighth floor window to see flames shooting up the balcony of the 4 story apartment building behind me. Then the BBQ propane tanks on the balconies started exploding completely lighting up my dark apartment. Within about 30 minutes the entire apartment building was engulfed in flame. Fortunately nobody was hurt but the building was completely gutted, 6 units lost everything they had and it took about 3 years for the building to be restored.

Plus I didn't get to sleep in.
posted by srboisvert at 7:07 AM on December 8, 2021 [4 favorites]


NO Tannenbaum

Indeed for Fox News this year. The war on Christmas apparently heating up again.

. (For the tree)
posted by inflatablekiwi at 7:43 AM on December 8, 2021 [3 favorites]


So, was the Fox tree a faux tree?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:48 AM on December 8, 2021 [3 favorites]


For what it's worth I got a tree with next to no fuss from the parking lot outside the grocery store (being a person who never DRIVES to the store, I had utterly forgotten they have a parking lot), for about half what I paid last year. It's probably a bit smaller than usual.

They also might have undercharged me, because it seemed like they weren't sure which one I was taking. But I will take it as one of those little kindnesses that happen sometimes at the holidays, when you are a small person with insufficient gloves about to carry an evergreen for a mile in the cold.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:23 PM on December 8, 2021 [2 favorites]


(How did they know I was carrying it a mile in the cold? Well, they asked me to pull my car up to "tie the tree on" and I just looked at them blankly, because after 20 years of not driving, I also forgot THAT was a thing.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:27 PM on December 8, 2021 [4 favorites]


In Mid-Atlantia many evergreens in woods and yards are experiencing rusting (widespread) and yellowing (pines) so there’s that. We’re on our third decade of Team Attic Spruce, so ‘shrug emogi’
posted by childofTethys at 6:24 AM on December 9, 2021


$99 for a five-foot Fraser from one of the big street vendors yesterday. Plus a $20 tip for the tree wrangler, although tbh the service was pretty poor and only pure commitment to Christmas spirit had me giving him more than $5.
posted by praemunire at 8:57 AM on December 9, 2021 [1 favorite]


(And my apartment smells amazing, thank you very much!)
posted by praemunire at 8:58 AM on December 9, 2021 [2 favorites]


For a very brief second, I imagined you were decorating a Kelsey Grammer standee for Christmas, and thought “not for me, but OK.”
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:18 AM on December 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


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