It's that time of year again. Christmas lights adorn the brownstones in my Brooklyn neighborhood, and from their lighted windows come cheery glimpses of lovingly-decorated Christmas trees.
But not in my home.
My fiance, an avid gardener and nature lover, has banned the tradition in our abode. Why? Well, there's the issue of messy pine needles that must be vacuumed up. But the real issue is this: arborcide.
Each year, as the holidays draw closer, a conversation along these lines takes place.
Me: Honey, can we get a tree this year? Just a small one?
Fiance: Don't you find something strange about celebrating Jesus' birth by slaughtering millions of innocent trees?
Me: But honeypie, they're farmed! it's not like we're killing a wild tree. New trees will be planted!
Fiance: Does that lessen their pain? Imagine being hacked off from the lifeblood of the very earth that's nurtured you since you were a seedling! Imagine the horror of of being bound in twine and crammed into a truck with all of your rootless friends. Friends you've whispered to for comfort on dark, stormy nights. Friends whose giddy happiness you've shared on those early spring days. Then what? New days of fear follow: you're propped up against a cold wall on some sidewalk, like a circus animal on display, tormented by endless loops of sappy Christmas music as your own sap slowly bleeds away. Then, suddenly, you are hoisted, hog-tied and moving, maybe strapped to the top of a car. Imagine a tree's torment when it senses it is traveling! Then, this once tall and proud tree is rammed into a metal harness, its base ringed metal barbs and violated by merciless screws before being hoisted up high as if from an inverted gallows.
Enough, you say? But, no, a final outrage must occur. Torn from its home, borne to a foreign land, impaled in a pot, the tree is now garlanded in gayly colored lights and made-in-China tinsel. Imagine the horror, if you will, of standing before a clamoring brood hungering for more cheaply-made toys and disposable gadgets, oblivious to the fact that your life is ebbing away. The final darkness is approaching, yet you can't greet it with dignity because... you are covered in twinkling bulbs!
Needless to say, this year, once again, our living room is treeless. And I have to admit, when I walk by the frozen green carcasses littering the sidewalks come January, I am glad for it. But, as we head to my family's this afternoon, I look forward to the cozy feeling that comes with gathering around a beautiful tree, basking in the glow of familial warmth and tradition, the tree as silent, suffering witness.