Last weekend, like heaps of other families across the world, we decorated our Christmas tree. We’re not really a family of neat tree decorators. Although I make a point of buying a new ornament each year, they never match, and our tree is a mishmash of lights and baubles. Little Delft china Dutch houses and stripy candy canes. Miniature disco balls, glitter-splattered cardboard decorations my kids made at preschool, and something that looks a bit like a whisk.
The only thing that’s the same each year is that we always, without fail, have a real tree. It’s the piney smell. It just sums up Christmas for me (along with mulled wine and warm mince pies). This year, we were invited to Queen Elizabeth Country Park, close to Portsmouth, for a Christmassy afternoon. The kids made charming little tree decs out of slices of tree trunk and glitter, after which we were driven into the woods in a tractor trailer and given a map to guide us to Christmassy clues to help us get back to the visitor’s centre. By this time the sun was setting and dusk had fallen and it was raining. The weather outside was pretty frightful, but visiting Santa’s grotto was delightful – as was the coffee and cake we polished off our visit with in the cafe before picking our tree.
We were very kindly provided with a voucher for a sustainable tree by the Forestry Commission, and went home, not only with aforementioned home made decorations, but with a cheerful, stout little fir tree, now sitting in the living room, looking, frankly marvellous. As well as the piney scent, buying a real tree has lovely benefits. A new tree is planted for every one cut down, keeping people in jobs, as well as trees in the ground. Real trees use 10 times fewer materials and five times less energy than artificial trees. And they are entirely biodegradable. Why not compost them down and put them back into the earth? Each tree bought at an approved Forestry Commission sale centre comes with a free tiny sapling tree for you to plant and nurture for years to come.
So if you haven’t quite got round to decking your halls yet, and you can get to a Forestry Commission Sale Centre, why not show your support for sustainable forestry and buy a Santa approved tree!?
Disclosure: We were invited by the Forestry Commission to take part in a Christmassy afternoon, and compensated with a voucher for a Santa Approved real tree. All opinions and bad Christmas puns are my own.