A Christmas Tree

Every December, I celebrate the religious ritual known as "Christmas". Not a one-day celebration, Christmas day is the actually the climax of the 17-week holiday season.

 

Along with eggnog lattes and doorway karaoke, Christmas is known for brightly lit trees called "Christmas trees".

These trees form the celebration centerpiece, providing a safe zone for the valuable Christmas gifts. Sharp, itchy needles help protect the presents from curious hands.  Glass bulbs, fiberglass angel's hair and garland snares are sometimes added for additional security.

Most gifts come wrapped in glossy colored paper, disguising their contents until they are opened on Christmas day, or until you run them through the x-ray machine at the airport.

Presents are carefully stacked under the lowest branches, known as the "guardian boughs".

Christmas trees are cultivated indoors with special hydroponic equipment in Northern California. This is essential to raise these special trees designed to live indoors, without the benefit of roots.

This special treatment is well worth it when their powerful scent permeates the entire house.

This tree is a Noble Fir, or Abies procera, the same type of tree used to build the R.A.F. Mosquito planes of World War II.

Because they grow without sunlight, it is important to provide Christmas trees with either multi-colored lights or full-spectrum white lights, delivering the variety of light-energy wavelengths necessary for photosynthesis.

Experimental blinking bulbs simulate a rapid day-to-night cycle that may promote growth.

On Christmas morning the tree's defenses are deactivated, and everyone wakes up able to collect their presents!

What a wonderful day Christmas is! Not only do most people have the day off, it also signals the end of that guy with the bell outside of Rite-Aid.

After Christmas, decorations come down and the gifts, once new and mysterious, are thrown into the trash dumpster.

The tree slowly dies.

If it is not disposed of, the tree will turn brown, begin to rot and collect maggots.


While contemplating how to get the tree out of the house, I remembered my favorite Shel Silverstein novel, The Giving Tree.

I decided to hack up the tree and use the branches for firewood, just like in the story. But how much was inside a Christmas tree?

On Saturday afternoon, we decided to find out..

Mike, Jane, Steve and Tara volunteered to help me strip the tree.

We used our hands to strip the dry needles from the branches, just like kids in a sweatshop!

We quickly reduced the tree to a bare skeleton.

Note the pile of needles on the ground. Kind of reminds you of the Tenderloin, doesn't it?

I don't have a wood chipper, so I used a machete, just like the supervisor in a sweatshop!

Steve gave the tree a few whacks...

...and Mike finished it off.

The patio was littered with sticks and needles, which is known in the forest as "litter".

We collected the sticks and put them into boxes.

Steve cut the trunk into chunks with a jigsaw.

We considered trying to get him to stop singing that lumberjack song, but he was on a roll.

The tree had been reduced to 1.4 cubic feet of mixed Noble Fir by-products: 6 pounds of needles, and 13 pounds of firewood.

 

The tree had given its all.

It had been a lovely Christmas centerpiece, it gave enough firewood to provide 142,000 BTUs of energy (34 Kilowatt-hours), and it provided enough needles to make a fragrant satchel of potpourri.

Hooray for Christmas trees!

How much is inside other stuff? | Bacon Bits | Dial Complete | A Pumpkin | An Acre | A Keg | Popcorn
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