The Christmas Tree Conundrum

Rows of Christmas Trees in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Rows of Christmas Trees (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

To cut, or not to cut, that is the question.  Should you sacrifice the life of an established tree, just to adorn your home for a few short weeks?  Or, should you consider an artificial tree instead?

Our Christmas Tree in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The “ONE”- Our Christmas Tree (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)



This is the conundrum I find myself facing every year.  My husband and I love the tradition of going to a local tree farm, wandering around looking for just the right tree, and the excitement when we’ve finally found the “one”. But, for the last several years, we have both had mixed feelings about the cutting of a live tree.

Christmas Tree on cart in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Christmas Tree on cart (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Because our family room has high ceilings, we need to have a tree that is close to 10′ tall.  In tree years, that could equate to ten years of growth (with an average of 1′ per year for most pines).  How many of us really look at a tree and think about its life before we put saw blade to trunk?  If we’re cutting the standard 6′ tree, do we consider that this specimen would have experienced approximately 2,190 sunrises and sunsets in its short life?  How many drought seasons might it have struggled through?  Or hurricanes and severe winter storms?  How many birds may have perched on its branches?  Perhaps even a nest was built, and baby birds were raised there.  Squirrels, rabbits or chipmunks may have found shade or protection from predators below its dense canopy.

Netting Christmas tree in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Netting Christmas tree (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

This year we again chose to cut a live tree; both to support our local farmers and to carry on our long standing tradition (besides, I can’t envision our cats climbing an artificial tree).  But, we spent time researching local farms first, to ensure that they replaced cut trees with new plantings and that they used environmentally responsible ways to care for their trees.  We found Busy Acres Tree Farm,, a 30 acre property owned and maintained by Tony Calabrese since 1979.  They grow blue spruce, Norway spruce, white spruce, white pine, Douglas fir and Fraser fir; up to 12′ specimens.  The workers were proud to tell me that Tony still prunes all the trees by hand.

Future Christmas trees in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Future Christmas trees (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

We were delighted to come upon a gorgeous, fat 9′ Norway spruce that was so perfect we didn’t even consider looking further.  And, it may sound odd, but before we cut the tree, we offered up a few words to let the tree know how beautiful it was, and how grateful we were for the life it gave to decorate our home ♥


  1. I,too, have thought about the waste and excess of the holiday season- My sisters and I came up with a few alternative ideas:

    Plant a live tree in viewing distance of the house or large window. Evergreen or deciduous will do. Plan a family day or two to decorate pine cones with peanut butter and seeds for the birds and squirrels. Buy suet or fashion it yourself and sting popcorn and cranberry just as you would a Christmas tree- Add lights and other geegaws and you have a family tradition and an ecological dilemma solved.. Just the thing to get the kids involved in the natural world.

    Or- start a new tradition where your family has to create a tree out of recycled items -and still be beautiful or fun or just plain unique. Imagination is the key!

    I like to think of other ways to achieve the same end – Family fun, unity and respect for the earth.

    But as you pointed out, the trees at the farm are grown for a specific reason- So do as your conscience dictates and enjoy! Happy Holidays!

    • Thank you, Gloria, for sending your ideas about decorating an out door tree with goodies for the critters. The animals would love the treats, and watching them would be great entertainment, as well. And creating a tree out of recycled items–I love it!! I truly appreciate you taking the time to share, you have inspired me to consider some wonderful alternatives~Happy Holidays!!

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