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Christmas tree alternatives?

How do you bring a green tree into your home while staying true to your green ideals? Melissa has a big dilemma that I'm sure many of us struggle with (though I'll be the first to say that having a live Christmas tree might be one of my sacred cows -- though with enough persuasion, that can always change.)

Every year around this time my now-12 year old stepson and I get into an argument/discussion about whether or not to get a Christmas tree. He likes the smell and the decoration aspect of it, not to mention that its just "tradition". I don't wish to offend any readers here, but I really do NOT want to support the Christmas tree industry. Now that I have a wee baby in the house I'd like to find an alternative so this doesn't become an issue for her too. So we're left with a couple of options: 1) skip it, which we've done in the past (my in-laws get a HUGE tree every year that we all enjoy but its not the same for my stepson), which earns me the great big old "GRINCH" tag for the whole holiday season; 2) get a permit, get to the forest, and cut our own tree - which sounds great in theory but never actually happens in reality due mostly to laziness; 3) get a plastic tree. And this is where I pause. I'm no big fan of plastics either, but I could see getting a small one if we could find one that is tasteful.

I have already tried to get the boy to rally behind the idea of a live tree in a pot that we grow in the house until its too big and then planting it somewhere but he's not into it. The idea of decorating a living tree outside our house is also met with skepticism.

I would love to hear what other eco - minded parents do to avoid this particular non-green aspect of the holiday season. Does anyone have a recommendation for a non-living tree?

It might also be helpful to hear about the environmental ramifications regarding Christmas tree farms. Here's a Treehugger article about it; it seems that heavy use of pesticides is probably the biggest issue? So, are there organic tree growers in the Portland region? If not, what are the alternatives? And how in the heck do you talk a 12-year old boy out of a live tree?


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