O Tannenbaum!

Tis the season to eat, drink, be merry and … murder trees???

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Ugh, it nearly pains me to write that—especially since I merrily participate—but I figure, if you’re going to be one of the crowd, at least you should be an educated member of said crowd.

So … for all of you celebrating the holidays with some sort of festively decked out tree this year, I shall provide you with a little bit of trivia to entertain your fellow lumberjacks, tinsel strewers and gold star toppers. Pay attention, memorize and amaze.

You’re welcome.

Holiday Tree Trivia Twaddle

  • Christmas trees remove dust and pollen from the air. This year I’m training mine to use the vacuum cleaner so it can remove dirt from the carpet.
  • Christmas trees take an average of 7-10 years to mature. Christmas trees would make wonderful children.
  • To be more specific: It takes 7-10 years of fighting heavy rain, wind, hail and drought to grow a mature tree. It takes 18-20 years of fighting heavy rants, whining, howling and delinquency to grow a mature child. (numbers will vary)

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  • Since 1966, the National Christmas Tree Association has annually given a Christmas tree to the President and first family. The National Christmas Tree Association is still waiting for a thank you note.
  • Recycled trees have been used to make sand and soil erosion barriers and been placed in ponds for fish shelter. I simply preserve mine by brining it in pickle juice at the end of the holiday season, and then bring it out again come December 1st. I serve a lot of corned beef on rye for dinner during the month so no one is suspicious of the stench.
  • The best selling trees are Scotch pine, Douglas fir, Noble fir, Fraser fir, Virginia pine, Balsam fir and white pine. At one point there was a national push toward the Giant Sequoia because Americans never like to be outdone, but the wait time for them didn’t quite match up to our appetite for instant gratification.

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  • 100,000 people are employed in the Christmas tree industry. For about 4 weeks. The remaining 48 weeks of the year they’re just tree stump grinders.
  • In 1900, large stores started to erect big illuminated Christmas trees. In 2013, all stores erected big illuminated Christmas trees, kept them erected all year long, but took a break by switching them off for the month of April.
  • 98 percent of all Christmas trees are grown on farms. The other 2 percent wouldn’t know one end of a cow from the other.

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  • Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states including Hawaii and Alaska. Christmas trees are sold only in Alabama and Oklahoma. Everywhere else sells “Holiday” trees.
  • Tinsel was once banned by the government because it contained lead. Now it’s made of plastic. And it has to be said, landfills have never looked so festive.
  • The use of evergreen trees to celebrate the winter season occurred before the birth of Christ. After the birth of Christ, we learned to start celebrating the winter season by putting away any sparklers and fireworks leftover from the 4th of July.
  • In 1856 Franklin Pierce, the 14th President of the United States, was the first President to place a Christmas tree in the White House. He was then promptly shouted at by staff for tracking in mud and pine pitch.

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  • You should never burn your Christmas tree in your fireplace because it can contribute to creosote buildup. You should only ever burn your Christmas tree in somebody else’s fireplace.
  • President Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the White House lawn in 1923. Taxpayers nearly ended the ritual after being presented with the White House electricity bill come January.
  • From 1948 to 1951, President Truman spent Christmas at his home in Independence, Missouri, and lit the National Community Christmas Tree by remote control. I’m guessing that President Truman was a bit of a Grinch.
  • Nineteenth century Americans cut their holiday trees in nearby forests. Twenty-first century Americans have somebody else cut their holiday trees in forests not even remotely close to where they live.
  • In the first week, a tree in your home will consume as much as a quart of water per day. After that, the tree will have located your liquor cabinet and will consume as much as a fifth of scotch until New Year’s.

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  • Helicopters help to lift harvested Christmas trees from farms. But this is strictly for the wealthy, whereas most folks simply drive their tree home strapped to the roof of their car.
  • An acre of Christmas trees provides for the daily oxygen requirements of 18 people. Sadly, 3 people use up that oxygen within about 60 seconds when visiting one of the many trendy Oxygen bars around the world. *gasp*
  • Real Christmas trees are involved in less than one-tenth of one percent of residential fires and only when ignited by some external ignition sources. This came to pass after many years of officials believing the sworn oath statements of homeowners who promised they did not pass out drunk beneath the tree with a lit cigarette dangling from their hands and that trees in their neighborhood have a tendency to self combust.

So, all this goofy fun aside, I wanted to insert a sentence or two about taking care of this beloved planet we all share and enjoy (read occasionally abuse). I’ve come to believe that if we are capable of making this earth just a teensy bit better for our having been here, then we should feel pretty good about ourselves when we draw our last breath. Recognizing that even this blog has its own carbon footprint (the Internet and related technology industries produce over 830 million tons of CO2 in greenhouse gases each year, and is projected to double by 2020), I feel it necessary to take responsibility for my work’s contribution to that figure.

I have instructed my blog to plant a tree to offset its negative impact on our environment. There was a bit of a tussle between the two of us as to who should do the actual digging, but in the end we agreed to flip a coin. Mercifully, the great folks at the Arbor Day Foundation have paired up with Green Gestures—a large-scale reforestation initiative in the US (by bloggers, for bloggers)—and will, on behalf of your blog, plant a tree FOR YOU.

My blog and I have decided to name it CLYDE.

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I’m incredibly grateful to the folks at both institutions for all their efforts, and encourage the rest of the blogosphere to participate and spread the word.

Write a post. Plant a tree. Breathe a little easier.


Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery (here) and what we all talked about down in the pub (here). And to see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone–click here.

45 thoughts on “O Tannenbaum!

  1. I know you won’t believe this but I swear every word is true. My father grew Christmas trees as a full time business when I was growing up. My husband worked for my Dad shearing the trees to make them more compact and suitable for Christmas trees. My brother now runs the business and his sales are totally from people who come to the farm and cut their own tree. Go to https://www.facebook.com/CorsiTreeFarm if you would like to see some photos from this season. Merry Christmas to everyone.

  2. Brilliant, brilliant, BRILLIANT! On our walks recently (since they’ve massacred part of the woods) we have noticed a few ‘unofficial’ gaps. We adopted a tree in the New Forest (not that anyone else did, it was just a particular tree about a mile in that had obviously taken a load of knocks over the years, just as we had), and would take a few decorations out to it the week before Christmas. They were always still there the following week when we went to retrieve them.
    We wonder if it’s still standing, and if not, if anyone wonders who the people were that ‘planted’ the two memory bottles (an empty bottle with a letter in it) in its roots.

    • The New Forest? As in the one with the miniature ponies wandering about? How I love that chunk of land. And what a wonderful thing to do each year! And now I’m equally curious about the memory bottles. I bet there’s an interesting tale in there too.

      • The very one.Our previous dog once herded a pony to us then sat down as if to say What do I do with it now? As for our memory bottles, we placed 2. One when we first got together and another shortly after we got married. Almost as good as a Time Capsule I suppose, but more personal.

        • How lucky to live in such a magical place in the world. It really is like an enchanted forest full of faerie queens and knights searching for the holy grail. Imagine your bottles may be just the hidden treasure some curious walker may one day come upon. So bewitching. 🙂

  3. Love it Shelley, so many memories from Mr. C’s tree farm recycling through, (remember Brad?). With 400 acres of tree farming, and 4000 acres of DNR land surrounding, deer hunting there is bliss too. I digress.

    Yet another fulfilling article; wrote such wonderfully pointe. Love the facts with simplicity and once again Sir Rob’s drawings. Did you give him a raise by-the-way? He’s working in color now, almost as if he’s transitioned like The Wizard of Oz… or, has he transitioned into crayons?

    As your kin would say to him, “Good on you Sir Rob.” I never understood those folk and their speak.

    My regards to all your fam, and to you Sir Rob as well.

    P.s. Rob, give my best to Q as I’ve not spoken to him since I haven’t yet returned his V12 Vantage S Aston Martin. Quite sure he’s hounding me down since I tide a mule deer to the hood to haul back to home. Satellites don’t get through in these thick woods very well so they’ll have to track it down on foot.

    Stoshu 🙂

    • I do remember the tree farm – and the one night we bundled babies and kids and took the most marvelous sleigh ride through the farm in the crispiest, coldest, blackest night I’ve ever seen. A piece of heaven I shall never forget.

    • Thanks. Bumped into Q down at the local, where we shared a lovely couple of pints of Theakston’s “Old Peculaiar”.He asked me to tell you “No hard feelings about the Aston Martin. He’s got a Koenigsegg instead 🙂

      • Sir Rob,

        I truly understand Q’s desires for the higher-end cars. With the Koenigsegg’s Agera R’s wet clutch, there is very little time for transfer of gears thus increasing power, cornering, speed thrust and physical motion to advert incoming dangers (i.e. avoiding suicidal squirrels, cattle or stag deer).

        I actually had the pleasure of riding in one this summer which belongs to one of my clients in the area. He shipped it in for the summer then shipped it back home recently this autumn for the “other” summer down south. Quite the life I’d guess. I can understand why Q would give in to a K car… long live the Queen, eh.

        I, am still driving an old pickup truck… the American way. Either way, I’m sure we both get the same gas mileage.

        Shelley, sorry about the car chat… I’m quite sure Doc will appreciate this as would Rob.

        S 🙂

  4. Shelley, not only do you possess far more wit and charm than a single person is fairly entitled to, but you have such a good heart as well, encouraging us bloggers to help out this poor suffering planet of ours. I’m going to do my part and have a tree planted on behalf of my blog. (Goodness knows I’m on here enough.) I’m calling mine The Grinch.

    • Yay Miranda!! Another tree and more happy hearts to come. And thank you–for all the incredibly kind words you continue to send my way. I cannot be thankful enough for the supportive and loving group of blogger friends who are working hard to build community with one another. Long may our words and friendships live!

  5. Regarding your thoughts on CO2 build up and becoming more green, I have made it a personal mission to plant at least 25 fresh varietal tree seedlings each spring around our community.

    Over our past twelve years of residency, I’ve been able to enjoy the growth and compliments from neighbors of my work. I too STRONGLY believe in leaving your path in betterment than which you first walked upon it.

    At one local non profit tree farm, when you cut one tree down, not only does half of the money go to charity, but you are obligated to plant 5 additional trees, anywhere you see fit.

    Keep passing the word Shelley. Just think, with your connections via this blog, we can replant the planet and retake our children’s future.

    Stoshu 🙂

    • Bless your little cotton Johnny Appleseed socks, Steve. I love that you’re such a nature freak. And so does Mother Nature – and your natural mother. And I sooo love the idea of the non profit tree farm. Do they give you the seedlings? Brilliant stuff.

  6. There is a run in DC that gives you a seedling tree rather than a medal so you can plant it. I believe every run (marathon) should do that rather than a medal. Grow something rather than hang something on your wall.

    S 🙂

    • I love it, Kami! Thank you for getting involved. I love knowing that our community can make a difference – with our words, and now with our woods. (okay, yeah, that kinda stunk, but my huge hug of thanks remains the same!) 😉

  7. Loved the topic, environment is something we need to take very seriously.I would be planting a tree this year. Your lovely humor adds to the beauty of the post Shelley. Enjoyed the pictures and the serious message with the humor. Awesome. Take care and God bless.

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  9. I’ll plant a tree, but only because it looks nice. You know, it would be nice if the people in my state put all the power lines under the streets so that they wouldn’t have to mutilate trees to keep them out of the power lines. Also, I was wondering (before I read the paragraph) that President Peirce had tracked in blood for some reason.

    • I agree it’s disappointing to see how our demand for modern conveniences gets in the way of the preservation of nature. Surely there’s a way we might be able to work things out a bit more efficiently and not so severely. And although it would be wonderful for you (or anybody) to plant a tree themselves, Green Gestures is happy to do the labor for you if you are willing to give them and their campaign a little shout out on your blog. Win win.
      As far as the poor President goes, I’m afraid it was probably the color adjustments made in editing, for I’m pretty certain when Rob’s sketch came to me, it was mucky brown for sure. Not assassination via rolling pin. 😉

  10. Shelley –Enjoyed the fun facts, and humorous commentary. In particular I enjoyed “In the first week, a tree in your home will consume as much as a quart of water per day. After that, the tree will have located your liquor cabinet and will consume as much as a fifth of scotch until New Year’s.”

    Have bookmarked Green Gestures and will check it out when I am not in the glassy-eyed-been-on-the-computer-too-long state. Love the idea of someone else planting & maintaining a tree, shrub, cactus, or even a weed on my behalf. (I must have the world’s blackest thumb — I even manage to kill off cacti & succulents!)

    Rob — love, Love, LOVE the “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” doodle. I applaud your ability to say so much, with so few well-placed pen strokes. Also enjoyed the Bonnie & Clyde doodle.

    • Thanks, Tana, I think that was my favorite fact as well. And I’m so happy to hear you’ll check out Green Gestures. No green thumbs needed, just a green heart. 🙂
      And Rob and I have decided his sketches need to be immortalized. Rob will be creating a calendar for 2015 based on reader-voted favorite cartoons. Watch this space and please make your vote count! It’ll be fun.

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