One of my clearest memories of my first tour on Okinawa - in the early 1970's - was going to the Post Exchange to buy a Christmas tree. A huge shipment arrived in early December, and word quickly spread through the ranks that if you wanted a good tree, you needed to drop what you were doing and rush over to the PX while there was still a decent selection. The tree lot was packed by with other service men and their wives - many dressed in the ubiquitous island tee-shirts and shorts - elbowing their way through the melee looking for that perfect tree.
This year a friend who lives and works on Okinawa told me there would be no live Christmas trees because a freak fire had destroyed the entire shipment bound for the island. (I tried to find the story on the internets, but couldn't. I suspect that it is true because our military grapevine is world class.)
Of course, even if this year's poor trees had made it safely to the Orient, they would not have been "live" Christmas trees. A tree that has had its trunk severed by a greed head with a chainsaw is nothing more than a pretty corpse waiting to dry out and be discarded.
Pretty corpses, in fact, is what I was thinking on a recent visit to a Lowe's where I encountered hundreds of dead trees lining the garden center walls waiting to be carted off to private homes for one final humiliation where they would be festooned in glass balls, twinkle lights, and cheap plastic doo-dads from China. A lucky few might even find themselves draped in strands of popcorn!
The dead trees at Lowe's were in the twenty dollar range. I have heard of recently murdered evergreens going for as much as two hundred dollars apiece. Those who can afford to purchase one of the dead trees will get to experience the joy of vacuuming pine needles out of their carpets, so the expense is not a complete waste.
If a person has big dollars to spend on a Christmas tree, why not consider buying one that is truly alive - one that has been dug up and had its roots balled in burlap? Bring that sucker in the house for the holidays, decorate it to the point of near obscenity, and then take it outside at the beginning of the new year and plant it in the yard. Repeat the next year and decorate both trees, the one in the house and the one from the previous year that is out in the yard. Do that for enough years and you will have that house in the pines that you've always dreamed about!
Or, for the terminally tacky, you can always go artificial. Those come in a variety of sizes and colors, and some have the lights already built into the branches. Nothing says "Happy Birthday, Jesus" like the glimmer and twinkle of a pink Christmas tree!
There are many ways to focus on the holidays without being responsible for the death of a tree. I'm betting the folks on Okinawa come up with some clever substitutes!
Keep the trees outside - where they belong!