We have been promoting fresh Christmas trees for some time as a green choice for the holidays. Every year, we enjoy the hunt, harvest, and even the hassle of putting up a fresh tree - especially now that we live within 2 miles of a great tree farm.
Typically, with proper care, they keep their aroma and greenery for many days, and last well past Christmas day. This year, though, we were in for a surprise - in spite of faithfully following the National Christmas Tree Association guidelines. We took the tree straight home and prepped it properly for the stand. Every morning we checked the water level, and topped it up when necessary. We even keep a bottle of water right next to the base for easy refill. But, for some reason, it dried out faster than usual. Needles started dropping early, and the bright green color started to fade. When it started to feel brittle to the touch, we decided as a safety measure, to take it down.
Sure enough, as we disassembled the lights and ornaments, it was clear the tree was a goner. We took it outside and put it in our fire pit. With just the flick of a lighter, it blazed into a small inferno. We were sad to see it go, but relieved that it ignited outside, and not while we were gone over the Christmas weekend.
A quick online search suggests that some trees don't absorb as much water as others, so that might be a factor. The other is the extreme cold we experienced for several days caused us to use the wood stove a lot more, and the air might have dried it out faster. Whatever the reason, we are grateful we noticed it and took action.
Even after this experience, we are still not ready for an artificial tree. According to the NCTA, "less than .0004% of Real Christmas Trees used each year are ignited in home fires." Next year we will again seek, saw and savor our live tree - we'll just put it in a cooler spot! This is just a friendly reminder that, while fresh trees are a great way to celebrate the holidays, it is important to pay attention and take steps to keep it from drying out.