I love Christmas. I love everything about it. I celebrate the holiday with great joy and passion. I am not a Grinch-like Scrooge intent on destroying fine Christmas traditions — or one of those that my friend and colleague John Gibson decries for declaring war on Christmas. It is for me a celebration of the birth of Christ, and I am not afraid or embarrassed to embrace it no matter which way the winds of political correctness may blow.
I do however have an issue with this tradition of the Capitol Hill Christmas tree: Is it really necessary?
Since 1964, your government has been scouring federal forest land for perfect 60 to 80 foot trees, chopping them down, strapping them to the back of a flatbed truck, hauling them across the country so that they can be placed in a giant hole filled with concrete on Capitol Hill. Can't we find some better way to honor the birth of our Lord and Savior than to kill off one of God's most magnificent creations? What is it about a big dead tree that says, "Happy Birthday, Jesus"?
Again, don't get me wrong. I have a tree in my home. I enjoy the tradition as much as the next guy. But the trees I buy down at the local Catholic Church were grown specifically for this purpose. They come from thriving Christmas tree farms. When they chop one down — they plant more. That's free enterprise. The White House Christmas tree comes from such a farm and the National Christmas tree is a live evergreen that stays on the ellipse in Washington year round.
But this year, for the Capitol Christmas tree, they chose a 90-year-old Engelmann spruce that once towered 80 feet in a picturesque forest in Northern New Mexico. Since these trees can live to be 300 years old, it was cut down in its prime. It still had 210 years to go!
Oh sure, it has its moment of glory. They gussy it up — and for a few nights in December they come by and "ooh" and "aah." But then this magnificent 18 thousand pound tree is reduced to mulch. That's right, this once grand giant of the forest becomes Capitol Hill flowerbed fodder. My Bible teaches that man is supposed to be a good steward of the land. I'm not sure this qualifies.
Have the tree — have the ceremony. I applaud the fact that we once again will call it the Christmas tree instead of a "holiday" tree. Despite the fact that the Christmas tree may actually have its roots in Pagan customs from the fourth century, I'm all for Christmas trees. Honest. But plant a permanent tree and let the grand giants remain in the forest where they belong.
What do you think? Am I wrong about this one?
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Brian Wilson is a congressional correspondent for FOX News and anchor of the Sunday edition of "Weekend Live."