I’ve got mixed feeling about Christmas trees. I’m concerned that they’re mostly grown unsustainably with herbicides and pesticides, a mono-crop that must be trucked into town from a long ways away to reside in Chico living rooms only to end up clogging the county landfill. But, I must admit I like to see my neighbors’ brightly colored Christmas trees displayed in their living room windows these long, dark winter evenings.
Yearly, a few days before Thanksgiving, a truck and travel trailer sets up in a Chico parking lot. A big tent is hoisted and a rental truck arrives with the first load of trees.
Perfectly lush, dark and green, the trees are set out on the bare asphalt of the parking lot, creating for a short time a little evergreen forest. This yearly ritual has become a sign that the “holiday season” has begun. Riding my bike across the parking lot, I, like everyone else, relish the scent of freshly cut fir.
Though I’ve long known it to be a tradition that’s unsustainable, it’s hard to let go of something so ingrained in personal cultural sentiment. So, over the years I’ve substituted a new tradition for myself. I salvage a few pruned branches that the Christmas tree workers have discarded in a pile of sawdust and other trash and bring them home in my bike basket where I tie them together with a big red bow and hang them on the front door. And if I have enough I drape them over the mantle where I can smell the scent of fir that is such a part of my remembrance. It’s a small gesture I know, particularly since the cuttings themselves are the trimmings of harvested trees, but still it saves a few tree scraps from being an utter waste and satisfies my longing for an old Christmas tradition.