I felt particularly guilty when I undecorated our tree this year. We had bought a new tree, a hearty pine which was still most gloriously alive on the 9th of January, and whose fragrance still graced our house like a memory of good cheer. I hadn't done enough research about re-planting a tree, although I realize that many people advocate this idea--here's one example. We also don't have much room in our little yard, and a pine tree, given its druthers, would grow taller, right up into the ugly wires that extend from our telephone pole.
So I, like Gary Cooper in High Noon, sought help with the Christmas Tree and found only tumbleweeds and a far-away whistling sound, accompanied by the distant slamming of doors. Alone, I dragged the poor spruce outside like a rejected Old Yeller of a pine, all the way to our compost heap. In a final protest, the tree left needle marks in the newfallen snow.
"Sorry," I told it as it stood, graceful and tall, against the fence, emitting its beautiful scent. "But the birds need you." To prove this point, my sons and I made some little packages for the birds and left them inside the tree. We'd recently been slammed with about two feet of snow, and the birds were having a rough time finding victuals. My sons spread peanut butter on some biodegradable coffee filters, then sprinkled bird seed on top of this. My nature-loving friends tell me that peanut butter and bird seed is a most indulgent treat for birds. We also filled a little lid with more birdseed and left it sitting on a branch.
This way, I told myself, nature was giving back to nature, and I wouldn't have to lose sleep over putting out a tree that was mainly still alive.
But next year--next year I'll dig that hole in advance. I'll have the location all picked out, and I won't have to worry about the frozen ground. I'll let the tree have its Christmas adornments, and then I'll send it back to nature in a new location and be able to enjoy its beauty for the rest of our lives--the tree's and mine. :)