Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

You may know this recently popular tune:

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree

How dry and brittle are your branches

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree

How dry and brittle are your branches

 

O once, you were such a lovely green

Fire resistant and so very clean

Now presents are gone and needles fall

How dry and brittle are your branches

 

Sure, I took some liberties with the words. Such a happy little song before Christmas becomes a little sadder after Christmas as that fresh tree becomes much less “fresh”.  For those procrastinators out there, IT IS FEBRUARY on the calendar, and that means, it’s time to take the tree down!

It is always a bit sad when it becomes time for the “real” Christmas tree to come down. The green conifer “soldier” has fearlessly done its job of holding up the myriad of bright lights, sentimental decorations, keepsake items, kids’ mystery creations, expressions of the season, glitz and glamour…day after day, night after night. That brave tree provided shelter to various sizes of gifts and presents, including the practical, nonsensical, emotional, thought provoking and expressive. That selfless tree brought color and the unmistakable scent of pine into the home during the season of joy.

My wife and I have an affinity for real trees and their perfect imperfections. We like the smell, look, and appearance of fresh trees. We enjoy the opportunity to support a specialty crop group of farmers. And now, after the tree has been removed from the house, we treasure the fact that we do not have to store another large box, the fake tree box, for a year before it’s cold out again.

When we hauled our dry and brittle Frazier Fir out of the living room in January, a blanket of needles was left in the carpeted pathway.  I just know we will find those needles with our bare feet for the rest of the year! So, what’s next in the career for these “real” trees?

Some towns feature a seasonal collection and recycling program where the trees go into the grinder for mulch.

My son likes to take the tree to the backyard for a special purpose. He lets it dry out for a few months and when spring finally comes, he props the tree up in the middle of the burn pile. He sets up his phone to video mode to capture the resulting inferno, soon to be posted for his social world for uber “likes”. 

  

I was driving to work the other day and there was a discarded Christmas tree.  It was laying on the side of Archer Avenue where the road goes through the Forest Preserve near Willow Springs.  I also spotted a run-a-way tree in Oakbrook on the Rt 83 shoulder. Who accidentally drops a Christmas tree on the side of the road without noticing? Was the tree attempting an escape to rejoin its brethren in the woods?

And speaking of Uber, I was chatting with my Uber driver (I’ve never said that in a column before) while taking a ride to the Nashville airport last month. He told me that following the holidays, he collects discarded Christmas trees from his friends and neighbors and dumps the trees at various locations in the lake that he lives on.  His master purpose was to create crappie (pronounced “croppy” for my non-fishing friends) fishing habitat in the lake. Best crappie fishing in the state, he claimed.

Thanks to specialty tree farmers…the magic of the fresh Christmas trees can “live on” in so many ways.