Christmas tree? No, thanks

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The Christmas tree is a cornerstone of any good Christmas season. Or is it? Canadians are looking at alternatives.

As Christmas tree farmers across North America report increasing demands, Canadians find themselves at odds. Of course, what kind of Christmas would it be without a tree? Yet, supply shortages and the difficult situation force people to turn for alternatives. And indeed, that’s exactly what’s happening.

Farmers anticipate a 15 per cent increase in demand this year, and that is without a doubt good news for them. According to Shirley Brennan, executive director at Christmas Tree Farmers of Ontario, the tree ‘gives hope’ for the next season to families staying home. Because of ‘nine months they haven’t really done a lot’, families are eager to decorate properly this year.

Yet, farmers have been struggling to keep up with demand. While they predicted an increase, the 2008 recession and climate change made things worse. ‘Some farmers may not have planted as many trees, some farmers that would have expanded, chose not to because of financial unrest, so that impacted it’, said Brennan. Moreover, wildfires and major freezes in the Atlantic regions impacted large mature trees that would have marketable soon.

Age factor is also a problem, according to Brennan. ‘We are seeing a lot of that decrease was because people aged out, they didn’t have succession plans to include family members that maybe don’t want to go into it, they didn’t have family members’. Therefore, Brennan says tree farmers must start including young generations into the business.

Other Canadians, however, look less towards the tree business and more towards creativity. Denise Wild of CTV’s Your Morning suggested decorating a simple rustic ladder with ornaments. Another option might be using a Bristol board and coloured paper, cutting the board into triangles and then layering them using tape in the shape of a tree.

To sum up, Wild says anything can be a Christmas tree: a houseplant or a lamp can do the trick. It’s still Christmas! If there’s joy and there’s spirit, a tree or a present isn’t necessary.