Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What do Maryland and holiday trees have in common?

Okay, so that’s a trick question, and this post is all about getting our holiday tree (more accurately, Yulemas tree, per EcoYogini. Pagans represent!). But first, you know that song “O Tannenbaum”? Duh, of course you do. Well, our state song, “Maryland, My Maryland,” is sung to the exact same tune. It’s a long-ass song, too. There was a bit of a dustup last year over a proposal to change, like, the ninth stanza because it mentions “Northern scum” and people who had nothing better to worry about were scandalized. I guarantee you nobody even knew the song had nine freaking stanzas until then, but anyway. If I have to choose between Northern scum and the Confederacy, I’ll take the former. (If you care, large parts of Maryland remain, shall we say, unreconstructed.)

That was probably the most labored introductory paragraph ever. State song, evergreen trees, whatever.

One bright cold Saturday, Red and I warmed up the truck and met my parents at Feezer’s Farm, where my family has harvested Christmas trees for years. We chose a lovely Douglas fir, and after asking the tree if it wanted to come home with us, we (well, Red) cut it down and we were on our merry way to Chinese takeout. Truly, it was the quickest tree-cutting trip of my life. I wanted to get pictures, but it was cold and I’m sure Red was glad I opted to help him instead of stage-directing his efforts while snapping away.

In case you’re all, “Hey, why’d you cut down a living tree? We need trees to breathe! Man, you’re a shitty vegan” right about now, slow your roll. Farmed evergreen trees are grown as a crop, just like fruits and vegetables. The tree we chose was 1) local and 2) organic. We supported a family farm, just like we try to do when we buy food. After the holidays, the tree will be recycled and returned to the Earth. Bonus: Plenty of deer and other wildlife live in and around the tree farm.

By contrast, fake trees are just that: fake. You really want to spend money on a petrochemical-laden monstrosity made in some factory overseas? Then you want to breathe in all the toxic shit that it off-gases, year after year? Then you want to throw it out and pretend it’s gone, when really it’s just languishing in a landfill somewhere, poisoning our soil and water? Well, do you?

Okay, so that was a no-brainer. Here’s our Yulemas tree, all dolled up:

With bonus goddess prayer flags as a backdrop.

Mama Burnout is, as you know, the best mom a girl could have. Red would agree that she is the best mother-in-law. Every year since we were kids, she’s given my sister and me a new ornament each Christmas. When we moved out, we had a box of ornaments, thoughtfully chosen year after year, all ready for our first Christmas on our own. She is also crafty as all hell, and made us these sweet little Nativity ornaments:

I requested ethnically diverse wise men.

I love all the Christian iconography tricking out our pagan tree. It’s a fabulous metaphor for Red’s and my relationship. (Note for next year: Find Buddhist ornaments!)

So, darlings, that is our Yulemas tree. Whatever you celebrate or don’t, I hope that you get a few days off work to spend in whatever way is most meaningful to you. Pass the soy nog!


  1. Wishing you much happiness doing whatever you choose! That is an awesome family tradition with the yearly ornaments.

    If you find those Buddhist ornaments, give a yell!

  2. I am not pagan, but I can appreciate a big tree. :)

  3. Sweet! What an awesome mom you have, too, Shannon. I'd better step up my mom game a bit.

  4. "In case you’re all, “Hey, why’d you cut down a living tree? "

    That's why I would use some branches, if I had christmas decoration, and not a whole tree ;-)

  5. Tree looks great Shannon! And I love the Goddess flags too. I'm happy to hear you have an awesome mom! I've got one of those too -- enjoy the rest of the holiday!

  6. i WAS having a dilemma 'bout trees, are they vegan?this actually helped a whole bunch! thanks so much! ive read through five posts of your so far, i relly like your style! you are fun to read:) ttysoon

  7. Thanks, everyone!

    Eva: I would have loved to do branches, if only 1) they would have let us cut a few instead of a whole tree or 2) we lived near a forest!

    dirtyduck: Aw, thanks for the kind words! Your blog is too cute. Duckies!