Shayne on You: Artificial tree, artificial Christmas?

Dear Maggie,

Oh, I hope you can help! Iím at my witís end. Itís our first Christmas as a married couple, and my husband wants a real tree. Iíve used artificial for a long time, now, due to my concerns about the environment. The number of trees cut down each year only to be decorated and lit up as they slowly die, is astounding, and issues of deforestation and the resulting climate change are global and urgent.

My husband knew my views about the environment long before we married. Heís been very good about recycling, and buying organic products, not littering and keeping the lights off when not in use. He even agreed that our new car would be a hybrid. But heís not budging on this Christmas tree issue. He says the best part of his childhood Christmas memories was trudging into the forest with his grandpa and choosing a tree, cutting it down and bringing it home. How can I enjoy the holidays if I have to look at a living thing that has been murdered just so we can hang shiny baubles on it?

I donít know why he wonít budge on this, but itís threatening to ruin our first Christmas as a married couple, and I donít want that to happen. But Iím not going to let it go, either. Please help!


Tree Hugger

Dear Tree Hugger,

Do you sit and weep at the dinner table, over the murder of the innocent, cruelly beheaded broccoli? Do you shudder in grief over the severed ears of the sweet corn when itís stacked on a platter in the summer?

Listen, Iím against deforestation too. But buying a Christmas tree isnít deforestation, because they are a crop grown by a farmer for the purpose of the winter harvest. The trees that donít sell and get too big to sell, will be chopped down and used for mulch, not allowed grow and reforest the planet. This is a crop. Like oats or potatoes or beans. Would you protest against a wheat farmer harvesting his fields in the fall? The farmer will plant new trees for every one harvested. So there will usually be a consistent number of trees from one year to the next on that tree farm, giving off a consistent amount of oxygen, filtering the air in a consistent manner. Not only that, but by buying his crop, youíre helping your local tree farmer, and by extension, the local economy.

Now, what are you supporting when you buy an artificial tree? The oil industry, mostly. Anything plastic is petroleum based. Yes, you use it year after year, but when youíre done with it, where does it go? It takes that stuff centuries to decompose. Do you really think thatís healthier for the planet in the long run?

I think a more serious, more honest look at the subject will ease your mind a whole lot. At the very least, one choice is no more harmful to the planet than the other. Under deeper scrutiny, the real tree might very well be less harmful.

But beyond that, something you said struck me. You said, ďthis is threatening to ruin our first Christmas as a married couple,Ē and then you said, ďI donít want that to happen,Ē and ďIím not going to let it go.Ē

Both of those final two statements cannot be true. Either you donít want to let it ruin your holiday, or you do. If you wonít let it go, then youíre choosing to let it ruin your holiday and put a rift between you and your husband. If you do let it go, then youíre choosing not to let it threaten your holidays, your happiness, or your relationship.

Like everything in life, this is a choice. Your choice. If you let it ruin anything, you have no one to blame but you.

Relax a little more. Be easy about this stuff. Itís not as drastic as youíre making it. Take a breath, let it go, focus on what you love about each other, and really enjoy your holidays together.



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