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Christmas OverIs your Christmas tree still in the stand in just the right spot in your living room? Mine is. Was your tree a real live (at one time) evergreen or did you opt for an artificial tree this year? Do you decorate in only matching colors or do you use hodgepodge ornaments that each hold a special meaning from your past or your children’s childhood?

For those of us who use artificial trees they are easily packed away for the next Christmas season. Some of us still have the original box we purchased the tree in and others purchase a Rubbermaid type container made especially for storing our treasured tree.

We have used both in Christmases past. When the children were younger and smaller we had a tradition of traipsing up to the North Carolina mountains to a special few tree farms and chose and cut our own tree; part of the fun was seeing all the snow since we rarely receive a dusting here anymore. For the past few years we have used the same artificial tree, and I am very fond of her. She reminds me of what Christmas is supposed to be about; not the new and flashy, best of the best, but a simple little tree that was used when I bought her. She almost seems to straighten up a bit once she is all decorated as if to say “look at me.” Some years we adorn her with strings of lights and other years we use no lights, just the ornaments for a simpler look.

Half Eaten Gingerbread Man (thanks to Clementine!) Handmade Ornament Handmade Ornament Special Gift

We decorate our Christmas tree in the old fashioned way, with a growing assortment of hodgepodge ~ deeply loved and treasured ornaments that each hold a special meaning. When completely decorated not one thing matches on the entire tree so much so that it all blends beautifully. I can walk by it at anytime and touch an ornament and remember my child’s face gleaming with pride as they handed me their school made ornament or one we made together. I love the memories and enjoy making new ornaments each year to add to our collection.

Over the past week I have seen more and more of this past Christmas’ trees undecorated lying by the curb and had one of those unsettling feelings. I thought I would do just a bit of research on things to do with a Christmas tree after all the festivities have ended; something besides the landfill or recycling center in which to extend the enjoyment or usefulness. The tree was after all sacrificed for our personal enjoyment and for such a short period of time. We pick them out, bring them home, dress them up, show them off, then give them the axe when the job is through. Sounds a little rough I know, but it is true. And I didn’t even have a real tree this year so why an I so concerned?

I think my concern might border on the waste part. If the used tree is being used for a purpose then it makes it easier to discard it. If your hometown recycles used Christmas trees with other yard waste such as tree limbs and leaves and mulches them, even for a profit, then that is useful. But isn’t there something creative that we could do with the trees, something a little nicer, prettier? Just a bit sentimental I guess, besides being a tree-huger.

The Truck The TrailerAs I have been pondering these thoughts all week, I happened to spy a truck yesterday coming up one of my neighborhood streets. An enormous black truck with the biggest lift kit I have ever seen, with exception of the Monster Truck Show, and it was pulling a trailer of almost equal size. Both the bed of the truck and the trailer were piled high with nothing else than discarded Christmas trees! To my enjoyment and a slight chuckle I threw up my hand and motioned for the driver to stop, and he did. The driver whose name was AJ didn’t seem to mind in the least my asking him questions as to what he was going to do with what looked like more than twenty-five trees. He smiled and nodded quite a bit so he might have thought I was plumb crazy. I asked him if he minded if I took a few photographs of him, his truck and the trees and he was very obliging. Here is our brief conversation:

AJ Tree CollectorMe: “Did you personally pick up all of these trees on the side of the road?”

AJ: “Yes Ma’am.”

Me: “What in the world are you going to do with them all?”

AJ: “Burn um’.”

Me: “Not in a fireplace are you? You know you can’t burn green (still wet and full of sap) trees in a fireplace because the resin and sap build-up will cause a fire.”

AJ: “No Ma’am, we burn um’ outside in a large outdoor fireplace – fire pit, almost like a bonfire. Sometimes the flames reach as tall as those telephone poles.”

Me: “Oh…”

AJ: Sometimes we dump um’ in the lake for the fish to breed in, but mostly we just burn um.”

It was an interesting, amusing and brief encounter, but at least AJ and his friends will receive some firelight and enjoyment from those trees, and hopefully doesn’t burn something down in the process!

Now that Christmas is over and we don’t have a live tree to discard, I think I want one of those discarded trees just for my own enjoyment. Now you know I’m plumb crazy! I believe tomorrow I will walk up to my next door neighbor and take his curbed tree and drag it down the little grade to my house. Now you are the one asking, “What in the world for?”

I plan to make a pretty little environment for my tree-dwelling friends; the birds and the squirrels. The needles will fall off I know, but that will still work as it will give me better access to the branches in which to hang my homemade bird and animal food. Popcorn, bits of bread, birdseed balls and suet. This will serve three purposes. One, I will be giving additional use to the disposed of Christmas tree; two, I will be feeding the wildlife and three, I will be able to have an up close and personal view of them while they sit and nibble, camera in hand. If my idea works, I will post pictures, if it doesn’t then at least I will have tried.

Below are some other blogs and articles that show ways people either recycled their Christmas trees or interesting tidbits of ones that were discarded.

For Get Me Not Lady’s “Oh, Recycled Christmas Tree!”

Lyssa’s Photo of the Day Pine Needle Centerpieces

Feed them to the Elephants Germany’s Berlin City Zoo and Dresden Zoo

You Say Yes Interesting Discarded Christmas Tree Photographs

Please comment and let me know if you decided to do anything different with your discarded Christmas tree this year.