Is there still time for a Christmas story? No? It's over, you say? Come on, just one more. It's not another sappy Santa Claus story, I promise.

Is there still time for a Christmas story? No? It’s over, you say? Come on, just one more. It’s not another sappy Santa Claus story, I promise.

Well… it does involve a guy who calls himself Scotty Claus, but the only sappy thing he’s peddling are Christmas Trees. Live ones, with the sap still in them. And therein lies the tale.

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If you think the post-holiday season is a bit of a letdown for you, think how it is for Christmas trees. Only days ago, they stood as holiday centerpieces in millions of homes – vibrantly green, splendidly ornamented, and the focus of merriment. Now, they’re just dried-out, used-up trash, tossed curbside to await the chipping machine.

Is such ritual slaughter of trees really necessary? Scott Martin – aka “Scotty Claus” – says no. A Southern California landscape architect, he was so appalled by seeing piles of dead evergreens that he launched the Living Christmas Tree Company. While live trees have long been available for sale, they’re very expensive and more trouble to maintain than many people want. Thus, Martin came up with a” rent-a-tree” service. Customers can choose the variety and size of living evergreens that fit their need, and Martin delivers them for a three-week stay. After the holiday, he picks up the still-living trees, keeping and nurturing them until next season.

Rather than adding to America’s throw-away ethic, the rent-a-tree concept literally greens-up Christmas. Some families become so attached to their living holiday visitor that they name their tree and have Martin tag it so they get the same one year after year – watching it grow a few inches taller each year.

Why should Christmas trees be a dead-end commodity? Let’s spread the living ethic – from your house to the White House. For information, go to

“Something Rented, Something Green,” The New York Times, December 17, 2009.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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