Well the presents have been exchanged. The meals have been prepared and eaten. Santa and the reindeer are safely ensconced at the North Pole. The new year approaches and everytime you enter your living room in your bare feet the dried pine needles from the tree greet you with a little surprise. What was once a fresh, supple pine that smelled like Christmas is now a large version of every houseplant you ever murdered.
Legend says it’s bad luck to take down the tree until after the new year and honestly, you don’t relish the idea of wrestling fragile ornaments out of the bramble the tree has become. Still, in a few days you will have to and you’ll have to figure out what to do with the carcass and the pine needles you’ll be finding for at least a month afterward. Following are a few ideas you may not have thought of…
1. Make soup! I have it on good authority that pine trees are actually nutritious and you can eat the pine nuts and needles – so get that outdoor kettle going and start the year off eating healthy again.
2. Make mulch. (Chipper required) For those of you who garden, pine needles make a terrific mulch and keep your flower and vegetable beds warm and toasty until spring. Of course if you get snow in your part of the country this may be moot.
3. Make a new Christmas decoration. For those of you who don’t want to contribute to the landfills, you can turn your old tree into a giant decoration for next year. Just nail that baby to a wooden block, spray paint the whole thing silver or gold and then varathane the whole thing. Caution: store in a cool, dry place and keep it away from the water heater and boiler.
4. Put it on the curb and let the city worry about it. Most cities pick up the trees in ‘special’ trucks and take them to a ‘farm’ when they can run and be free. Caution: Don’t tell the kids about the chipper.
5. Plant it. Okay, this really doesn’t apply to a dead tree – you have to have one of those tiny little potted live trees but you can plant those. Of course, half the time they don’t actually grow once planted and the ones that do, get big, so don’t plant too close to the house unless you want to fix your foundation a few years from now.
6. Leave it up til it falls down. Of course you can just leave the tree up and let nature take its course. Eventually all the needles will fall and the ornaments will end up in a heap on the floor but so what? And once the tree has shed all it’s needles you’ll have a nice hunk of wood. Roasted marshmallows anyone?
7. Carve a walking stick. Depending on the size of your tree, you could have a fair amount of wood left over once you skin the branches and needles from it. Cut the trunk to size and carve yourself a nice little old shillelagh (shill-lay-lee) come St. Paddy’s Day.
These are just a few ideas but if you put on your thinking cap, I’m sure you can think of other environmentally friendly and innovative things to do with your dead Christmas tree.