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Why Is Your Christmas Tree so Important?

christmas tree lights
(Photo: Getty Images)

On Christmas morning millions of people gather around a tree and spend loving and joyous moments together. So this holiday season we thought we’d spread some joyous love for the Xmas centerpiece itself, trees. Why is your Christmas tree so important? And what should you do with it once you're done with the holidays?

A recent study has shown that tree-filled forests have been around for almost  390 million years. In that time they have had a profound impact here by providing oxygen for the atmosphere, homes for a vast amount of species, and have been turned into tools and shelters for us humans - just to name a few ways these living things have made a big impact on Earth. 

Trees have been a big part of our human story as well.  Our earliest relatives were living  exclusively in trees until as the ancient climates naturally changed around us and our relatives slowly left the trees for an upright walking existence. Even after that some of  our earliest relatives used  tree bark to help fight headaches and understood how various species can be used for medicines. Now you know what they say: you can take the human out of the tree, but you can’t take the tree out of the human. Our modern human family has relied on threes for hundreds of thousands of years and still does today. Fruit-bearing trees bring us food, we have used trees to make boats for exploring the globe, lumber from trees have built our homes, schools, places of worship, gathering spots, and more. Even today trees play a vital role in our neighborhoods, cooling us off during summer heatwaves by several degrees Fahrenheit, preventing many heat related health issues for millions in the nation. 

While some portion of trees are naturally lost every year to forest fire cycles, this year’s  Amazon rainforest fire, and others around the globe, highlighted our collective concern for the value of trees. These were some of the biggest headlines of the year and with no surprise, the globe was paying attention as trees are not a regional or national resource, they are needed for the entire planet's wellbeing. 

Our connection to trees will continue to be very important as  trees will play a vital role in helping humanity become resilient to climate change. The global tree population is at about three trillion or so right now and continues to do the many tasks that so much of Earth depends on including our uses. One of those needs is to get decorated and be the setting for festive gift-giving. 

A friendly note that after you’re done with your Xmas tree, you can let it continue to serve a purpose  by composting the tree - don't just throw it out! Our neighbors in North Carolina’s outer banks area are using discarded Xmas trees as a way to  combat erosion and provide nutrients for beach grasses. A great way to send your tree off to a oceanfront retirement! 

From all of us to all of you, happy holidays and enjoy the presents under the tree, but keep in mind one of the greatest presents for our human family is the tree itself!