Wednesday, December 06, 2017

No Christmas Tree, No Christmas Tree

On Saturday or Sunday – weather dependent – I’ll be going out and getting my tree. I’ll get a Zipcar and head to Boston Christmas Trees in Allston to pick out a nice, six-foot balsam. I don’t go to Boston Christmas Trees every year, but I like to support them, as they’re long term supporters of Christmas in the City, a children’s charity I’m involved with.

Once I get my tree home, I’ll toss it in our building’s tiny front yard, hose it down to remove the allergens – it actually works: I did it last year and didn’t get my seasonal stuffy nose at all – and see if my new pedal-action, supposedly great for one-person Christmas tree stand works better than my trusty, heavy-duty cast iron stand. (The Christmas after my husband died, I discovered that a 6 foot tree is my single-handed tree height limit.) I’ll then let the tree relax (sigh…) for a day or so. Once it’s settled in, I’ll haul out my vast supply of Christmas CD’s and my vast supply of Christmas ornaments and decorate. All will be calm, all will be bright.

One thing I’m not worried about is whether there’ll be any trees left in the Boston Christmas Trees lot.
Maybe I should be. Seems there’s a scarcity of trees out there.

This Christmas, supplies of live trees are tight. Some Christmas tree lots are closing almost as soon as they open, citing a shortage of trees and presaging a potential national run on firs this weekend, traditionally the busiest of the tree-buying season.

Some suppliers blame extreme weather this past year. Some blame changes to agriculture, like small farmers in Oregon, the biggest tree-producing state, turning to grapes and cannabis instead.

But most growers blame the Great Recession.

It takes seven years to 10 years to grow a tree. Many farmers planted fewer seedlings or went out of business altogether in the years after the housing bust, when consumers pulled back spending.

At the same time, total acreage in production declined 30% between 2002 and 2012, according to the latest federal data available. (Source Wall Street Journal – requires subscription)

All I can say is, consider the source. The Wall Street Journal? You mean the folks who think Bob Mueller is the bad guy? That Wall Street Journal?

I’m going with: This is New England, and we’ve got Christmas trees.

Don’t we? After all, the article mentions states like Arizona and Florida that are far away from tree sources. We’ve got Maine! We’ve got Canada!

But, while we haven’t had forest fires, we did have a drought this past summer…


So I did a bit of googling and, sure enough, Massachusetts isn’t exempt from the tree shortage. Supply down/demand up. And because it takes a good one while to go from sapling to something usable, the shortage is likely to be with it for a few more holiday seasons.

Fortunately, I’m not all that fussy. The tree doesn’t have to be perfect. If there’s no obvious bald spots, I’ll be good. Sometimes it helps to have grown up around a grandmother whose motto was, “If a man on a gallopin’ horse wouldn’t notice…”

…the artificial-tree industry is saying traditionalists should see the shortage as a sign to branch out. Trees can be “tall, short, thin, fat, green, silver, white, ombré, rainbow, upside down, real or artificial,” according to a Facebook post by the American Christmas Tree Association, a trade group for artificial-tree producers.

I will say that I’m occasionally drawn to those mid-century modern silvery-white Christmas trees with turquoise or pink ornaments. So Mad Men. But I could never actually go with one of them. As for ombré. Hombre, I’m no fan of fake Christmas trees to begin with. But ombré?

“Don’t be discouraged,” the association said. “That ‘perfect’ Christmas tree is any type of Christmas tree that fits your personality and your lifestyle.”

Me? I’m not discouraged, and doubt I’ll ever be discouraged enough to get an artificial tree (even though some of my best friends and relations have them). As for finding something that “fits”, I don’t exactly have a lifestyle. But I do have a personality, and that personality just says NO, NO, A THOUSAND TIMES NO, to an artificial Christmas tree. Talk about no Christmas tree. No can do.

So I’ll keep my fingers crossed that Boston Christmas Trees will have a good enough six-foot balsam, and that my new tree stand will be a dream to use. Look for a picture of my tree some time next week…


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