Tom Loewy: For some, the Christmas tree goes early

Tom Loewy

The desolate Dumpster on the edge of Lowe’s parking lot is surrounded by ice-covered pavement and a fine carpet of still-green pine needles.

It is the place Christmas trees are dumped and discarded.

And the folks who made the old Yule tree a ghost of Christmas past Thursday afternoon weren’t too attached to the inanimate former house guests.

“I just wanted this tree out of the house,” Joe Boone said. “We had it for about two weeks and I wanted it out before the needles started falling off.”

The Boone family rarely keeps the tree around for very long and since he was on vacation this week, Joe got the dumping honors.

“We usually have it down in a day or two,” Joe said. “We had a really good Christmas. It was great to spend time with the family.

“But it was time for the tree to go.”

Just when to get rid of the tree has been a point of debate for some time — as is the actual origin of the Christmas tree.

Long before anyone came up with the idea to drag a tree into a house, or had any notion of Christianity, people included plants in their worship andceremonies.

Some believed certain trees embodied a god, and many early religions equate green plants with a healthy, prosperous life. 

The History Channel’s Website credited Germany with introducing the Christmas tree to the rest of the world during the 16th century. Traditionally, trees were brought into the house and decorated on Christmas Eve. The trees were removed after the twelfth night, or January 6.

Germans imported the Christmas tree to the United States in the 1830s, but for the next few decades many other Americans thought Christmas trees were a pagan symbol.

By the 1890s that feeling changed. Americans bought into the Christmas tree practice with typical gusto — while most Europeans erected trees that measured three or four feet in height, ceiling-scraping models were not uncommon in this country. 

Doug and Gina Horton opted for an American supersized tree this year, a 6-foot monster that took up more than its share of space in the Dumpster.

“Having a traditional Christmas is important to us,” Doug said. “Gina and I have been married since 1999 and we’ve had a tree every year.”

The Hortons had a slightly different motivation for dumping the tree this week.

“They say to have a Christmas tree lit after the New Year is bad luck,” Doug said. “So we got it out of the house.”

Christmas trees have legends.

“That might be an old wife’s tale — literally,” Doug said. “I don’t believe it, but my wife’s mother told her that, so that is the rule we follow.

Terry Cole Sr.’s reason for dumping the tree was simple.

“The joy of Christmas is over,” he said. “There’s no sense in holding on to the tree after the holiday is over.”

Terry didn’t intend to sound like a Grinch.

“It was a nice Christmas,” he said “The meal was great — turkey with all the amenities. I got together with my son, his mother and my three granddaughters.

“My granddaughters are 16, 13 and 11. That is nice, too. There wasn’t any of that puttin’ together bicycles late Christmas Eve night. Now we can but that stuff is already assembled.” 

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