For this Christmas, I suggest you buy your Imaginative Conservative a sapling tree. That tree could be a blue spruce that might grow up to be, even more literally, a “Christmas tree” someday, but it can also be a shade tree or a tree that will produce nuts for wildlife or fruit for the family or blooms to add beauty to their lives.
I am tempted to write a political guide to tree types—a nut tree to remind her of how nuts our politics were the year it was planted, the fruit tree to remind him we are all to produce fruit for others, the shade tree to remind us of the need for leisure and rest—but I am going to resist that idea.
Instead, let me suggest you buy your Imaginative Conservative a tree as a reminder of core conservative principles that should unite us all and because the very act of planting a tree is conservatism at its most natural.
Conservatism has largely lost a priority that should be near the center of our concerns—the health and stability of our natural environment. Imaginative Conservatives like Tolkien and Lewis and Russell Kirk once cared deeply about the health of the natural world that we live in. Kirk himself planted trees to repair some of the damage done by his ancestors as they made his Mecosta County into “stump country.”
What can be more authentically conservative than to conserve? Somewhere along our cultural journey from the 1970s to today, the Left came alongside our train and snatched environmental conservation from us. Their embrace of a radical environmentalism that sometimes resembles a religion and their alignment of environmental goals with their social, political, and economic agendas, has driven too many conservatives away from actual conservation. To the degree that has happened, we have lost a vital element of authentic conservatism.
A tree given this Christmas can help remind your Imaginative Conservative of our joint responsibility to the long-term health of our natural environment. Planting the tree during this cold winter will remind her of the need to maintain hope, even when times seem bleak. Putting their hands into the soil, they might imagine the hand of an ancestor reaching back—an ancestor that had to till and manage the soil in order for him to be here today.
The planting of trees, like all authentically conservative enterprises, is a long-term game. It reminds us that we are to act today to conserve and propagate for the future. A fruit tree takes years to mature into a state that will allow it to produce fruit. A seedling will take a decade of growing to be a Christmas tree ready to be brought back into the house for the children that will, by then, be grown nearly beyond recognition.
The planting of trees takes patience, care, and the willingness to work for a future you might never see. In other words, the planting of trees requires love and what can be more conservative than that?
The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.
The featured image is “Winter Landscape” (c. 1811) by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840), courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.