May tides of cheer wash over you this holiday season ... hmm. It almost works.
In this case the artificial pink scented "pine" has been felled on the driveway of the do-it-yourself carwash. Looking down at its pinkness, I was thinking of the day-glow optimism of the fake tree. It represented a wish, if not a holiday one. Something like, "please make my car stink less."
The custom of bringing a real freshly felled tree into a home has a more authentic aromatic connection to ancient holiday wishes. A young evergreen pulled into the lodgings in the dark of winter was a European sign of hope that predated Christianity. The newer religion swept through on a tide of conquest, appropriating little bit of tradition here and another dash from there, letting the conquered keep some of the comforts of their own traditions of meaning and celebration. Evergreen: meaningful and very ancient. Embracing that green that survives through winter resonates deeply with hopes for eternity. How lovely that bringing a little tree into the living quarters also acts like an air freshener. That bonus benefit must have felt like yet another sign.
I've spent much of my life nostalgic for the fir trees that brought an ancient though not particularly religious Christmas joy to our house when I was a child. I'm also routinely filled with holiday sorrow about the baby tree industry. Let forests become forests, I would think each year when I saw the city lots fill with fresh-cut trees. My revulsion increases in January when the sidewalks are piled with discarded trees.
No doubt the baby tree slaughter is less of a slap on the face of the living planet than a dozen other practices from manufacturing and discarding huge volumes of plastics, to raising beef for burgers in the clear cut rainforests. This fast-vanishing year was, after all, the year of a nuclear power plant meltdown. We do still attack the planet that is our only mothership.
So as 2011 slips away, here is a toast to the trees. May evergreen be as enduring as humans have ever imagined. May our lovely gem of a planet continue to sustain people and trees, and to bring a balance with so many other wonderous life forms large and small. May we find and listen to enough wisdom to avoid deliberately and unnecessarily killing not just individual animals and plants, but whole species. And may we extend that wisdom to stop war and genocide among our own species, something we have still not outgrown this far along. We sure do need a holiday from all that. Cheers to the trees!