Dec 23rd, 2005 - 16:43:51
American Friends Service Committee
Friends Committee on National Legislation
National Catholic Reporter
British Broadcasting Company
Christian Science Monitor
The Register Guard
Environmental News Network
Federation of American Scientists
Car Free Times
The Travels of our First Webmaster
Voices of the Northwest
|Sadler's Sense: Holly, Folly and Why Its Ok to Cut Christmas Trees
There is no more sorry sight than an abandoned Christmas tree farm.
By Russell Sadler
Posted on Dec 20, 2005
Email this article
Printer friendly page
“I will not kill another living tree for Christmas,” announced a waitress at a restaurant I frequent. It is a common misconception that cutting a fir at Christmas is killing a tree that will otherwise live.
“Christmas trees are grown to be cut,” I said sagely. “That is their reason for being.” Then I recounted the story of a longtime friend who bought a live, balled tree every year for the last 30 years and lovingly planted each one near her farmhouse in rural Lane County. The trees had grown so large they shaded her garden and cut off light to her sun room. Last spring, she cut down five of the aging Christmas trees, one of them 30 years old. This winter the trunks of those Christmas trees planted decades ago are yule logs, warming her farmhouse. Sooner or later, Christmas trees help us celebrate Christmas.
Oregon has more than 750 licensed Christmas tree growers who cut more than eight million of the 25-30 million trees cut nationally each year. Oregon produces about one-third of the Christmas trees grown in the United States. About half of all Oregon-grown Christmas trees will be shipped to California. More than one million Oregon trees will be exported outside the United States -- mostly to Japan, Mexico, Canada and Asia.
Most of the trees you see leaving Oregon on the highways are Douglas fir, but they will never grow up to be the “money tree” beloved of the timber industry. Christmas trees -- Douglas fir, Grand fir or the popular Noble fir -- are grown in plantations. Here they are “cultured,” deliberately grown with denser limbs than trees found in the wild, by trimming the boughs each year they grow so you can hang more ornaments on them. They are cut and shipped to market after three or four years.
There is no more sorry sight than an abandoned Christmas tree farm. Trees are planted so densely they begin crowding each other out after five years or so. Weaker trees die, topped out by stronger trees, and become a fire hazard.
Don’t worry about Christmas trees you are allowed to cut on public lands, either. The Forest Service deliberately steers you to “overstocked stands” where the small tree you cut and take home would eventually be crowded out by its bigger brothers and left to die anyway. In exchange for thinning the public forest for the Forest Service, you get a “natural” tree that lends that “over the river and through the woods” New England flavor to your holiday.
Modern Grandmothers, of course, are probably driving or flying to the celebration and they would probably rather eat out at J.J. North’s Buffet than cook. The tree is brought back in a pickup or SUV instead of a sled and is probably cut down by a chain saw instead of an ax. But no matter. A “natural” tree reeks of nostalgia!
Our traditional view of Christmas comes from our English roots and our nation’s New England beginnings. There’s is no place like home for the holidays by the hearth of a New England farmhouse. Chestnuts roast on an open fire. A rock fireplace is required equipment.
Town is a country crossroads with white clapboard churches with their spires reaching heavenward and snow-covered red barns where the cattle are lowing. Jack Frost must nip at your nose.
It is only a slight exaggeration to suggest that Charles Dickens invented Christmas as we know it when he published “A Christmas Carol in Prose, being a Ghost Story of Christmas” in 1843. Scrooge and Marley, Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit, and Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig were introduced to the world the same year Jesse Applegate’s wagon train arrived in the Oregon Country with 900 pioneers over the Oregon Trail to settle in the Willamette Valley.
This is the American origin of Christmas with its blazing Yule logs under cozy rooftops, plum puddings, smiles, gifts, feasts at the groaning board and -- Christmas trees.
Today, some folks are dispensing with the Christmas tree ritual altogether. Either from the mistaken notion they are killing a tree that would otherwise live or simply because there isn’t enough time. Life is just too busy.
Still, some of us make the time. Christmas trees are one of the cherished holiday rituals in the Sadler family. There are ornaments stored in boxes all year that date back to childhood. It is a thin but durable tie to the family in a day when the parents have passed away and the rest of the Sadler clan is scattered from Cape Cod to Pine Island to San Juan Island.
Judging by the continuing demand for Oregon-grown Christmas trees, a lot of other folks are maintaining the nostalgic ritual, too.
Copyright 2005 by Russell Sadler
Russell Sadler is a journalist and a lecturer at Southern Oregon University. You may write him c/o publisher at westbynorthwest.org. Visit Sadler's Sense column's at West By Northwest.org:
Sadler's Sense: We Need the Constitutional Limits of the Initiative Process
Sadler's Sense: Learning from the Katrina Moment
Sadler's Sense: A Right to Die?
Sadler's Sense: Who Are These Candidates Representing?
Sadler's Sense: The Birth Tax
Sadler's Sense: The Thin Veneer
Sadler's Sense: Gas Policy After Katrina-- Oregon Can Lead the Way Again
Sadler's Sense: Oregon's Supreme Court Take on "Takings" Flies on Eagle Wings
Sadler's Sense: Legislature's Sandbox Politics Irresponsible
Sadler's Sense: Beyond Dorchester - Can Our Traditional Parties Stand for Anything Substantive?
Sadler's Sense: The Oregon Gasoline Tax, Pork Barrel Projects and Big Brother
Sadler's Sense: A Classic Conservative Judge Who Conserves the Law
Sadler's Sense: On the Economic Ramparts--The Northwest, Defazio and CAFTA
Sadler's Sense: Can Dissatisfaction Become a Wave for Political Sanity?
Sadler's Sense: Oregon's Public Lands Patrimony in Danger Once Again
Sadler's Sense: Driving a Road to State Religion?
Sadler's Sense: Remembering Roy Lieuallen and his Legacy
Sadler's Sense: The Big Sky Game: Manufacturers, Airlines and Competing Visions
Sadler's Sense: On Death: Our Challenged Autonomy
Sadler's Sense: Who Is in Charge of the State's Purse?
Sadler's Sense: The Risks of Shifting Higher Ed.'s Costs and Who Pays
Sadler's Sense: The Good Ship School Finance Is Sinking
Sadler's Sense: Infrastructure Renewal Needed
Sadler's Sense: The Unlikely Poster Child for Measure 37
Sadler's Sense: Of Myths, Money and Machines, Why We Blame the Owl
Sadler's Sense: Not Window Dressing
Sadler's Sense: From Constantine to George, God's Will and Secular Power
Sadler's Sense: Credibility or State of Our State
Sadler's Sense: Look in the Mirror, Oregon
Sadler's Sense: Why We Must Pay the Piper Now
Sadler's Sense: A Short History of Measure 30
© Copyright 2000-2004 by West By Northwest.org
Top of Page