A Green Christmas: Reducing Waste and Making Memories

BlogHer Original Post
Woman hanging Christmas ornament

I remember our first Christmas together. My now-husband proposed on Christmas eve. Prior to that, we were "shacking up," as my grandparents referred to it. Despite their disapproval of the "situation," they gave us their old (fake) Christmas tree. It was too big for our apartment. And old.

But we loved it.

We kept it for a few years before making a Black Friday purchase for a less-hassle, more size-appropriate (fake) tree. (My firefighter husband doesn't allow real trees in the house.) We sent the old tree off to the landfill. I feel bad now, for various reasons.

First off, it's our first Christmas without Grandpa, and I'm feeling weepy and nostalgic. Secondly, if we had kept it (where, I don't know), we could have passed it on to our kids in a nostalgia-plus-good-land-steward move. You know, like Jean Edie -- the woman who has used the same Christmas tree since 1928. (To be fair, our old tree was over 20 years, so we're not horribly un-environmentally friendly.)

All of this talk has got me thinking about the things we use and reuse and pass down from generation to generation, especially during the holidays. I think this time of year, more than any other, has us thinking about family tradition and waxing poetic and nostalgic about things of our past. Reusing grandma's old ornaments is not only a nice tradition, but it keeps those ornaments out of the landfill.

And I'm not the only one who recognizes that fact!

Pat at On Crooked Creek let us know that the title of her post, Old Christmas Tree was not a typo; she isn't singing a Christmas carol. She was merely talking about her 46-year-old Christmas tree that she still decorates every year.

For nearly 46 years now, I've decorated our old Christmas Tree. Every year, I think it's time for the landfill. Then the memories come flooding back. I wipe the tears, get out the ornaments and decorate that old tree with all the love I can give!

In an epic case of creativity meets sustainability, Kendra at Creative Ambitions happened upon her old (once live) Christmas tree stumps and created a usable piece of decorate-able furniture for her home.

So I grabbed some garland and wrapped it around the tree. I think it looks good like this … even looks like some of the trees I’ve seen in the stores!

Christmas trees aren't the only old things sprucing (pun intended) up houses this season. RetroRuth of No Pattern Required shares some classic candy holders and a huge-tastic stocking.

And, I had to share Mikes (my husband) Father’s Christmas stocking. This was his original Christmas stocking from the late 1940s to early 1950s. He knew Mike and I loved old things so he gave it to us. I put it in a frame so the stocking would be more protected. I really think this old Christmas stocking is fabulous and the graphics are a hoot!

eeniemoni learned that reusing family heirloom ornaments is not only good for the environment, but it's a beautiful thing! Seriously, she has some gorgeous ornaments from her grandma in Germany!

My mom sent me these several years ago. They are my grandma's christmas ornaments. I'm still surprised they made it all the way from Germany via the mail. They're all faded and scratched, but still beautiful. I think the wear and tear makes them more charming. Not quite sure, how old these are, but I'm guessing 50's? maybe 60's?

KnittyWhit shares not only some old ornaments from her grandma, but the fascinating histories behind those ornaments. I learned so much from that post and thought I would share this interesting tidbit.

One thing I've read is that toward the latter part of the war around '43, the bulbs were actually made with paper tops or cardboard as the metal caps and hooks were victims to the war's needs and stock had ran out.

Not rocking any antiques this season? Feeling kind of bummed about the wrapping paper and general junk of the season? You're probably already doing holiday stuff that's good for the environment, according to Robin Shreeves at Mother Nature Network. I mean, who doesn't like to eat leftovers on the fancy china?

I'll be asking my parents and grandparents -- including in-laws -- if they have any old family ornaments to pass on to us. Mainly to make up for the guilt of trashing the old tree (and realizing, while writing this post, that I have exactly one very blurry photo of said tree). But also to ensure that those ornaments end up in our family traditions instead of a landfill. (Though I have been doing my part by rescuing unwanted fire ornaments from eBay.)

Do you have family heirloom ornaments? Or a fake tree that you've used forever? Do you like to mix the new with the old when it comes to holiday decorating? Share how you keep sustainability and family tradition in your celebrations!

Contributing Editor Jenna Hatfield (@FireMom) blogs at Stop, Drop and Blog and The Chronicles of Munchkin Land. She is a freelance writer and newspaper photographer.

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