There it is, my living Christmas tree.

Planted in 2000, it towers over my house so straight and tall.

I love our native cedar tree. Our little cedar tree grows everywhere along the Georgia coast and is called “the tough tree.”

It is a pioneer native species because it is one of the first plants to grow and stabilize our dunes. It’s this resilient little tree that will stand strong in the sand when water starts washing away.  

My father lived in Mississippi for over 50 years and is considered a pioneer forester. The job in Mississippi was to take old worn-out cotton lands and persuade farmers to grow productive pines. His career was to start this new tree industry. I was lucky enough to travel over the state and have him talk to me about how he found the lands in the 1930s and show me how it changed.

We had a cedar tree as a Christmas tree. The fake trees look so much prettier, so our little family went to an artificial tree. But I missed the real live tree.

Eventually, I said to myself — “why not plant a living Christmas tree?”

When I first though of that, I didn’t know there were two types of cedar. But there are … one grows straight and tall. The other will hold to our dunes, protecting them from erosion.

These were the trees that the Eagle Pencil Company got after purchasing a barrier island — Little St. Simons Island — on the Georgia Coast. The idea was this would be a supply of cedars for the pencils. The problem was that they picked the wrong kind of cedar.

The Eagle Pencil Company got an island filled with the craggy, low-ground bush. Instead of harvesting these cedars for pencils, it became the retreat we know today.

When I purchased my tree at Ace, I got the right type. And I knew better not to plant that cedar tree in the middle of my yard. So I was told, but did I listen?


I kept telling myself — “I will keep it trimmed.” But did I? Also, no.

Today, I stand back — or go on Google Earth — it’s easy to see. My living Christmas tree took over half my front yard and more than half my yard.

All you see of my little tabby cottage is this towering cedar tree. No cute little blue-trimmed cottage. It is just one tall tree … one large cedar tree.

Why am I going on about this cedar tree? Because it is truly a treasure. It keeps our coast safe will from the winds and rain of the fall hurricane season.

I may not have gotten my neat trim cedar Christmas tree, but I did get many gifts. And the birds got a beautiful tall, towering, growing, year-round Christmas tree. So what if you can not see the house? I can make some suet dough stars and moon from the store and sit under my living towering Christmas tree.

Merry Christmas, my beautiful Georgia Coast.