Evergreen conifer such as spruce, pine, or fir are a symbol of life in the midst of winter world over, as are mango leaves to Hindus. It’s also a cherished Christian tradition to set up and decorate a Christmas tree every Christmas. While it’s a time-honored practice, I’m concerned about its impact on the environment. Imagine every Hindu home cutting a mango tree for worship instead of just making a mango leaf bunting during each Hindu festival. Crazy right?
It takes an average Christmas tree about a decade to reach the right height, which is a whole lot of time spent growing just to be put on display in the home for a few weeks before being dumped. Thankfully, getting cut trees is not that prevalent in India as much as it is in the west.
Plastic christmas trees are an alternative, but all the plastic that goes into a fake tree doesn’t make them any more environmentally friendly. Plus there is the risk of lead contamination, a major health risk to both young children and adults alike. And they are neither fire resistant nor recyclable.
This year, we found an innovative middle ground that doesn’t sacrifice authenticity or the environment. We got a living Christmas tree, which is alive, potted and can be enjoyed even after the holidays are over. Not only is this tree better for the environment, it is beautiful and smells great too. When you have something alive in the room, it’s a whole different atmosphere than when you have something slowly dying or something plastic.
We headed to a local nursery to choose our eight-foot tall baby that was home-delivered to us in a mini truck the same day. A word of caution to those who plan to get one – This one needs love.
It is not a thing; A potted tree will probably need to be watered more than a tree planted on the ground, to keep the soil damp.
I’m so happy we got it though because it is ours to grow over the years and over multiple Christmases if we treat it well. We have it in a large pot so we don’t even have to re-pot the tree for the next two to three years. It can be kept indoors or outdoors. After the holidays, we are even contemplating planting it in the ground, making sure it has enough room to grow.
This year, we also decided to decorate our potted, living tree outdoors instead of indoors. It just feels so nice to see people’s faces light up every time they pass by our house. Truly a Merry Christmas for everyone, including the tree!