I believe trees have magical healing power. If you’ve ever read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, you know what I mean. If you have fond memories of sitting in a tree fort as a child, or climbing trees to look out and ponder the view from above, you know what I mean. Maybe you used to pick plums off trees in the backyard with your grandma or grandpa and just recalling the warmth of the sun on your back and the scent of the ripe fruit relaxes your shoulders on a busy day, all these years past. There’s just no question: trees are good, and they’re also good for you.
Trees minimize the effects of global warming by trapping CO2 emissions. They also cool your home naturally, reducing cooling costs. A potted tree within your home can improve indoor air quality almost immediately.
If you’re feeling anxious, watching a tree for a few minutes can reduce blood pressure and nerves. When my son was a baby, I could always count on taking him outside to stare at a tree as a balm during those newborn crying phases. The soothing was instantaneous for both of us.
Trees give us clean air to breathe, reduce noise pollution, increase property values, decrease water runoff and capture dust particles (so you have to do less dusting!). Make sure to plant trees that are native to your area so they’ll use less water, and support native wildlife. If you don’t have a yard, contribute to community tree planting efforts, or ask your local school, church or neighborhood center if they’d like a tree planted on their grounds.
During the holiday season trees take on an even greater poignancy as they pop up in households and storefronts around the world, warming the hearts of children and adults of all ages. With visions of sugarplums and Norman Rockwellian landscapes, we gather ‘yee round to string popcorn garlands around Noble Firs, place angels atop Virginia Pines, and even play dreidel games next to the newfangled Hanukkah bush. We hang “Baby’s First Year” decorations alongside family heirlooms from whom we can’t quite remember but we know it’s an anchor to years past, and ancestors perhaps long gone.
Planting a tree has become part of my family’s holiday celebrating. Every New Year’s we plant one together and share our dreams and goals for the coming year. But planting a tree is a great way to mark special occasions all year long. Like the start of a new school year, a birthday, or anniversary. You can save trees by purchasing items made with recycled, post consumer waste paper.
When buying a tree for holiday decor, look for locally grown trees, or trees that can be planted after the season. Avoid chemically sprayed trees. If you prefer a plastic tree, purchase used ones from eBay to avoid off-gassing of VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) into your home. Compost trees that cannot be planted, or chip them and use as mulch in your garden. If you don’t yet compost, here’s a video to help you get started.