My mom does not like cutting down trees. I grew up in the forest, and my mom was just morally offended by the very idea of cutting down a small tree for Christmas. She’s also repulsed by fake trees. To accommodate these contrasting concerns, I grew up with a malformed potted dwarf Australian pine that made Charlie Brown’s tree look robust. Every year we’d bring the poor potted tree inside, and try to hang ornaments on it — but the needles were so long and the branches so sparse that the whole look was just kind of sad.
In the 25 years since then, my mom has completely refined her no-kill Christmas tree. Unlike previous attempts, this no-kill tree actually looks like a “Christmas Tree.” It’s conical! It’s solid! It smells delicious! There is no tree death NOR plastic involved. Here’s how she does it.
First: the frame!
First, my mom drags a pea-vine frame in from the garden. This thing was cobbled together by a family friend from a few boards and chicken wire. Honestly, the contraption is not much to look at, and definitely doesn’t look like it belongs indoors. There are screws and wires poking out all over, and the wood could generously be described as “unfinished” (but is probably better described as “rotting”).
Second, the materials
Then, mom goes out into the forest around Sacred Groves (her eco-retreat B&B hippie sanctuary) and collects branches that have fallen from the trees. Autumn in the Pacific Northwest may not be especially colorful, but the fall storms are generally windy enough to blow down a fair assortment of cedar and fir boughs.
Then, the assembling
Having now collected a pea-vine frame and a huge pile of felled boughs, my mom gets to work poking the boughs into the frame.
A “tree” slowly takes shape. There’s really no special method here other than “Jam boughs into chicken wire.” The shape of the boughs hooks them into place pretty securely.
In terms of maintenance, the boughs do dry out over of the month of December, but that’s all part of my mom’s plan: she ceremonially burns the dry boughs as part of her annual New Years Day sweatlodge. #hippiemoms, ammirite?