Call – Opelika-Auburn News
the use of artificial Christmas trees
About this time last year I shared
in this column how much money we had saved by using an artificial Christmas
tree for ten years. A few days later I received a thoughtful message from Ray
Gilbert suggesting that I rethink the matter.
Ray said that artificial trees do more
harm than real trees. And artificial trees are usually made in China from
plastic and other compounds that do not breakdown in a landfill. Instead of
chastising me for using an artificial tree, Ray raised an interesting question.
Would you, he asked, use plastic Easter lilies rather than real lilies in your
church? I am sure he knew that my answer would be a resounding No.
He was not finished. Ray went on to
remind me, graciously I must admit, that real trees are similar to other
farming crops; the growers replant each year to replace the ones cut and sold
and that creates jobs in our country. That is significant because most
artificial Christmas trees are made in China.
By now I had noticed from his address
that Ray operated a Christmas Tree Farm. I learned from his Website (www.gilberttreefarm.com) that Ray and
his wife Joan started their tree farm in 1983 and sold their first trees,
Virginia Pines, in 1988. Since then he has expanded the size of the farm and
begun growing Leyland Cypress trees along with the Virginia Pines.
Impressed with what Ray had taught me I
did further research on my own to verify his observations. The more I read, the
more convinced I was that Ray is right. Evidently artificial Christmas trees
actually damage the environment and pose health risks to consumers and workers.
Artificial trees are made with polyvinyl
chloride, or PVC which is a plastic derived from petroleum. The raw material of
these trees is non-renewable and polluting. And, get this, the production of
PVC results in the emission of carcinogens, creating a rather unhealthy situation
since they are cancer causing agents.
One strong argument against artificial trees
concerns the health risk to children. To make the artificial needles more
malleable some manufacturers use lead and other additives which have been
linked to kidney, liver and neurological damage in studies on animals. This led
to the warning that artificial trees “may shed lead-laced dust on the branches,
gifts and the floor beneath the tree.” That’s a rather scary thought!
Convinced that Ray was right, last year
I gave up on artificial trees and bought a real tree. It was so real it still
had roots. We watered it liberally and after Christmas I planted it in the
yard. It is alive and well.
This Christmas we followed Ray’s advice
and bought a Fraser Fir tree in Montgomery. On top of this stately eight-foot
tree our grandsons deployed a lovely angel. Leaving 900 ornaments boxed up, my
wife opted for simplicity. The tree is unusually beautiful with nothing more
than a string of lights, the angel and a few streamers flowing down from the
Stationing an angel atop a Christmas
tree is making a statement. The angel is in charge of the tree. Santa and his
Elves are subservient to the angel. I have not examined it but I imagine the
angel was made in China. But for me it is much more than a Christmas ornament, it
is the angel Gabriel and each day I hear him saying to us what he once said to
Mary, “The Lord is with you!”
If we lived a bit closer to the Valley I
would get in my old red truck and drive with some of my grandchildren over the
Ray Gilbert Christmas Tree Farm. It would be fun, as Ray suggests, choosing and
cutting our own tree, as we did when I was young. Ray gives you a choice; you
can cut your own or he will cut one for you.
By now, six days before Christmas, Ray
and Joan are about done selling trees for this year. But I hope business has
been good and that a lot homes will enjoy celebrating Christmas around one of
Ray’s real trees. I am thankful for the good lesson Ray Gilbert taught me about
Christmas trees. The environment will be a little safer because of what I
Merry Christmas Ray – and everyone! + +