Editor’s letter: On guilt-free trees

  • And then we were three: Our first family photo following the birth of our daughter in 2012, and in 2016, following the birth of our son.  

Published: 11/29/2018 5:03:41 PM

Hello, friends,


I first heard about stump sprouts culture and the sustainable trees grown at Pieropan’s Christmas Tree Farm from Amy Reed, who, for many years, was a teacher at the Yoga Sanctuary in Northampton. She was like a minister, who gave deeply moving talks at the beginning of each class, so when she said a place was special, I was eager to check it out.

The previous Christmas, my husband had convinced me to forgo a traditional evergreen in favor of a topiary-like orange tree. The notion came from a good place — I think the waste of cutting down and then discarding a tree that takes years to mature went against a number of his principles. But it just wasn’t the same. Balsam is my favorite form of aromatherapy: I even keep some on my desk so that while my computer boots up, I can smell the forest inside.

So following the tip from Amy, we tucked our five-month-old daughter into her snowsuit and trekked to Pieropan’s, where all the trees are the same price, whether they’re tiny Charlie Brown numbers or lobby-sized trees. We plucked a bow-shaped saw from a tree at the bottom of the grove and hiked up a steep hill in search of the perfect specimen. And afterwards, a most handsome and helpful farmer — Emmet Van Driesche, whom you’ll meet on page 12 — helped us tie it to our car and took our photograph. It was our first portrait as a family. And just like that, a tradition was born.

The tree we ended up with that day was so tall, it was lodged firmly in place by our apartment ceiling. I don’t think we had any ornaments. But we had lights. I stared at that tree for hours each day, rocking our baby to sleep. And the tree itself kept its needles through January, when we finally —and reluctantly — took it to be recycled.

I realize now that the impromptu family photos we have, triumphant with our tree, have become a way for me to mark the passage of time. And the experience is what I look forward to each December the most.




P.s. Next week we can go back to talking about the calendar, if you like. By now, you may have noticed that the format of the calendar has changed and is now organized by day rather than by subject. Many — but not all — people dislike this change. I hear you. It wasn’t a cavalier decision: It simply takes far fewer hours to produce this way, and that’s a reality we have to work with. I hope you’ll give it a chance.

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