2018-01-04 / Local News

When to take down your Christmas tree

By Jen Murphy
Special to the Enterprise


JUDY PREWITT of Lake Leelanau had a delicious idea for her Christmas tree — a pineapple, which will be kept up until it's too ripe. JUDY PREWITT of Lake Leelanau had a delicious idea for her Christmas tree — a pineapple, which will be kept up until it's too ripe. As New Year’s Day fades, the household chore of removing ornaments, unwinding lights and disposing of Christmas trees begins. While for some, the day after Christmas is not too soon. Others, however, enjoy the fresh scent of pine in their homes much longer. The timing of tree take-downs is a matter of personal choice, and to some Leelanau County residents the ritual has special meaning.

Lake Leelanau native Barbi Ance is keeping her tree up for a while, possibly longer than the time she typically moves it out of her house in late January.

“I’m waiting to hear when my Air Force son will be home before getting stationed overseas. It will stay up until he’s home to celebrate Christmas,” Ance said. Her son is stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base awaiting orders to leave for Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey.

“Not sure when he’ll be home, just anxiously waiting to hear.”

Faith traditions also help determine the date of a tree’s arrival and removal from a home. Many people associate the end of the Christmas season twelve days after Christmas Day with Epiphany, or Three Kings Day, on Saturday. Epiphany, or Twelfth Night, commemorates the visit the three kings (the Three Wise Men) to the baby Jesus.

Sarah Schultz, a long-time Leelanau County resident, enjoys her tree from November to January.

“It’s a tradition that when my parents come visit for Thanksgiving, my dad helps me decorate my tree on December first,” Schultz said.

Schultz’s tree comes down exactly twelve days after Christmas.

Cedar resident Mila MacNaughton follows cultural Christmas customs from two regions of Europe. “We keep ours up until after Jan. 8 because the Serbian Orthodox Christmas is on the seventh. My dad was full Serbian. I also have one up by Dec. 5 for St. Nicholas’ Day because my mom was full Dutch.”

A few people choose to enjoy their trees all year.

Pamela Chernivsky of Maple City sees her tree as a reminder to look forward to each day.

“I’m one of those that keeps it up all year. It is filled with handmade ornaments from friends and family. All I need to do any day of the year is look at it to remember all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me and my family,” Chernivsky said.

Of course, some opt for “alternative” trees that may stay up much longer. Lake Leelanau resident Judy Prewitt had an especially creative and delicious “tree” this year.

“We live on Lake Leelanau but winter in Venice, Florida. Our “tree” this year was a pineapple. It will be up until it gets too ripe,” Prewitt said.

Whenever they are taken down, Christmas trees need to be disposed of somewhere. Leelanau County has few government-provided opportunities for Christmas tree disposal.

The Village of Suttons Bay Department of Public Works will pick up trees left at the curb for village residents and businesses from Jan. 8-19. Trees should be left next to the curb, but not in the road.

For private disposal one option is to leave a tree outside to help wild creatures. “Trees left outside in nature decompose quickly,” said Leelanau Conservation District Forester Kama Ross. “I always put mine next to the suet bag in my backyard to give birds a little cover when they are feasting. Brush piles along woodlot edges are helpful to small rodents also. It doesn’t take much to give those critters a little thermal and escape cover with the added snow depths.”

Another idea is offering them to farm animals. Once all ornaments and any traces of tinsel are removed, chickens enjoy exploring the branches and pecking at the needles, and goats are known to eat almost the entire tree.

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