Saturday, December 26, 2009

Some thoughts on trees

Christmas trees, to be exact. I'm not a fan. I can't remember what I used to think of them as a child. It's probably safe to assume that I didn't think much about the issue at all. But in recent years I've noticed myself developing something of an aversion to the things.

I don't have a Christmas tree at home. In fact, to be honest, I don't have any Christmas decorations at all. I own some, but I don't use them. I don't know why I've even bought them - total waste of money so far. If you saw my apartment you'd have no idea it even was Christmas right now. Partly that's for practical reasons ... I'm lazy and I'm never at home then anyway, so what's the point? In some ways it just makes it more special to arrive at my grandmother's house in the past, and at my parents' house now - I go from no decorations to fully decorated, so then I can really tell that Christmas has arrived. :-) But partly, or perhaps I might as well say mainly, it's because I'm not really into this holiday at all.

I do like some things about it. Time off is always nice ;-) and especially time off during which one has a total license to just relax and enjoy oneself. I like giving presents and getting presents ... although sometimes the whole present thing feels like it's almost more stress than it's worth. (Please note, friends & family reading this: I said 'almost'. ;-) I like - theoretically - the idea that at Christmas we should all be nice to each other. But.

I don't like what Christmas has become in the Western world. Far from a religious or spiritual celebration, I should sooner call it a gluttony of consumption. To be brutally honest, when I think about it too much, when I really try to take it all in, it makes me sick. Those of you who read Norwegian, please read this post over at my friend Gunnar's blog, unfiltered perception ... he has some excellent and important points to make on this same topic. When I hear statistics like the recent one showing that each Norwegian child will receive on average ten kilos of presents this year - and a lot of it will of course be Chinese plastic crap that's killing the planet - it makes my stomach turn. I just want to punch somebody in the face. But what can I do? It really is like Fay Weldon said. :-(

Anyway, back to the trees. This wasn't supposed to be a very long post. (Gee, quel surprise. ;-) Christmas trees are one of the things I have to say I reject about Christmas. I don't have one in my house and I never will. I just can't wrap my head around the concept. Here is a tree, one of nature's amazing creatures - because really, think of a tree, really think about them! they are fantastic beings! - living creatures who share this planet with us. And we kill them, just to drag them into our houses and drape a lot of weird shit on them - often more plastic crap - and let them slowly die for a couple of weeks. Then they're trash and we send them to the dump. That's if they're what, lucky ... a lot of them don't even get bought by anyone and just become trash right away. >:-( When I look at a Christmas tree, they just strike me as so wrong on every possible level. I know in my gut that I'm looking at something that is just totally out of place. It just doesn't in any way sense or form belong in that living room or whatever where it's standing. It's a tree!! It belongs in the forest! But no, we had to kill it for our temporary enjoyment. >:-(

And then when I talk to people like my mother, who insisted on having a Christmas tree even on those Christmases when we went to my grandmother's house and, obviously, weren't even home on Christmas eve ... then it's like I'm meeting a member of an alien species. Seriously. I don't understand how that thought process could even take place.

Instead of buying a Christmas tree next year, please consider donating the money you would have spent towards the planting of trees instead. Our planet will thank you. :-)

(Well, no, it obviously won't, but you know what I mean.)

Just to make this post really schizo, here's a picture of our Christmas tree, that I decorated. I know, I know ...


KAS said...

I luvz my xmas tree!!! :-D

(What is this don't kill the (xmas) trees? Not exactly deforestation we're talking about here. Save the whales!)

Paz said...

I admit having 2 trees a 6 foot and a 2 foot, both fakes, I used to cut down a tree from our land when I was younger with my kid brother but I got lazy.

DES said...

Every time you buy a Christmas tree, (at least) one more is planted to replace it.

Oh, and it's “quelle”.

AudiX78 said...

Plastic works fine... but apart from that, xmas threes are most of the time grown for this purpose only you know... like anything else you plant on a field..

Leisha Camden said...

KAS: I would never take away your Christmas tree, I just don't get what you see in it. o_O No, it's not deforestation, but it's a wasteful way to spend resources that would be better used on other things.

Paz: A two foot fake tree, that almost sounds cute. :-) We could have had a fake tree now, because my grandmother had one, but my mother threw it out because in her opinion it 'has to be' a real tree. o_O

DES: I know, but that's beside the point. A field of Christmas trees is not a forest in any sense of the word and the whole concept is wasteful and ridiculous ... IMO.

Audi: I know that these trees are farmed for that purpose, but see above, the whole concept is 1) wasteful - something else could be farmed that would have some real practical use, and 2) totally screwed up! It's a TREE in your living room! :-D I say it's a messed up idea and I stand by that. :-D

KAS said...

Yes! It's a TREE in my living room! :-D

DES said...

Audi: plastic is made from oil (about twice as much as the amount of plastic you get), so a plastic tree pollutes far more than a real one (which does not pollute at all, unless you factor in transportation).

Leisha: it would be interesting to compare the amount of carbon fixation per tree per year over a tree's lifetime. Christmas trees can be planted far more densely than trees intended for lumber or paper production, so they might actually come out ahead. When you're done with it, the tree ends up as fuel for a power plant, and the residual heat from the plant is used for district heating. You should know—you work less than three hundred meters from one of two such plants in Oslo, and the largest in Norway!

Leisha Camden said...

Trees don't belong in houses. You will never persuade me otherwise. >:-)

As for the plastic vs real trees, DES may be right and he may be wrong. A plastic tree certainly is an awful pollutant during the construction phase. Transportation-wise (of course the transportation must be factored in!!) they may be equal or one may be worse than the other ... that all depends on where the trees are made or grown and where used. But the plastic tree will normally be used for a number of years, so they can't be compared one for one. For each plastic tree, twenty real ones may be needed. Add up the transport on all of those, well ... It would be interesting to see that equation. :-)

And it would be interesting to make that comparison you mention, too, DES ... but I'm not convinced.

Christmas trees can be planted far more densely than trees intended for lumber or paper production, so they might actually come out ahead.

Yees ... if carbon fixation is all we're worried about. But precisely because Christmas trees are planted so densely, a field of them has few or none of the advantages of a real forest. Monoculture is rarely a good thing ... if ever, in fact.

When you're done with it, the tree ends up as fuel for a power plant, and the residual heat from the plant is used for district heating.

I question the efficiency of this in this country. If this was Sweden I would accept that argument, but here ... ? We are notoriously bad at utilizing that type of energy source. Wahey, we have two plants in Oslo. But it's a big country. How many trees are just thrown on the scrap heap and left to rot in this country - I'd wager it's the vast majority.

Bah, humbug!!

AudiX78 said...

yeah plastic is bad :-( but I use the same one every year :-) I don't have a car, I freeze to death in my house, I use public transport and I don't eat scampi... so I think I can use my plastic tree :-)

KAS said...

Christmas trees do so belong in houses and you will never persuade me otherwise.

I obviously don't agree with you on this one. Of all the useless, wasteful, unnecessary things we plant or produce and needlessly spend various resources on, I hardly think Christmas trees are even worth mentioning.