An Open Letter To Those Of You Who Blew Off My Arbor Day PartyCommentary • environment • Opinion • friends • parties • ISSUE 44•27 ISSUE 39•16 • Apr 30, 2003 By Vance Kanner Vance Kanner Dear "Friend," I'll admit, Arbor Day isn't as big a holiday as Thanksgiving or Independence Day. But to my mind, it's every bit as special. It signifies the symbiotic relationship we have with the land in a way that no other holiday does, not even Easter. It is The Little Holiday That Could and, as such, it holds a special place in my heart—a place I thought I could share with my closest friends and coworkers. Well, I guess you all showed me. To each and every one of you, I just want to say, from the bottom of my heart: Thanks ever so much for blowing off my Arbor Day Party last Friday. Had you ingrates deigned to show up, you would have been treated to a thoughtful, fascinating oration on the holiday. I would have told you that Arbor Day began in Nebraska in 1872 under the loving stewardship of J. Sterling Morton, a real-life Johnny Appleseed. That's right, 131 years ago, this proto-environmentalist understood the importance of planting trees to preserve the splendor of nature. Today, we take for granted the miracle of a majestic tree growing from one little seed. For lumber and fuel, as shelter from wind and sun, as a home for the birds, squirrels, and honeybees, a tree is an agent for pure good. But you didn't feel that such ruminations on trees were worthy of your time. Instead, my speech, which was to be the high point of a day-long celebration of roots and branches, was drunkenly delivered to my dog Taco. Since none of you jerks bothered to show up, only Taco was lucky enough to hear my stirring—albeit gin-besotted—words. I should point out that my wrath is not directed at everyone who bailed out. I know, dear Cynthia, that your mother had surgery. I respect your decision to stay by her side, even if it was for elective liposuction. Danielle, I know how difficult it can be to get a babysitter on a Friday, though I would think that the invitation I sent you two months ago would have given you ample time to track one down. And I'm certain, Kyle, that your sudden onset of "stomach cancer" was genuine, and in no way psychosomatic. But the rest of you have no excuse. None. I don't suppose any of you are bothered by the fact that I have a garage full of red maple saplings that I planned to give away as door prizes. Sure, you could come by and pick them up, but, alas, they are all dead. Don't get me wrong: I'm not bothered by the fact that I spent $500 for unwanted baby trees. I just can't bear the lingering stench of dried sapling corpses that wafts over me every time I need to pull some steaks out of my freezer. Steaks, by the way, that I planned to grill for the party. I remember my first Arbor Day. My dad dressed as a tree, and we all sang Arbor Day songs, then we went out into our yard and planted a spruce. Okay, so Dad was just dressed in brown cords and a green sweater, but to my 4-year-old self, he looked like a mighty oak. By the way, that spruce is still standing tall and proud in the yard. I dropped by once to tell the current owners about it, but no one was home. I just wanted to spread the magic of Arbor Day with someone, just like I tried with my party. But then, as now, no one was there to hear the tale. Hey, why am I bothering to tell you this? I'm sure you're all sitting there at home, laughing your heads off at the Arbor Day guy, the tree hugger, hugging his trees. Arbor Day is some big joke to all of you. Ha, ha, ha. But one day, sooner than you think, you'll be old. You'll look out the window, and you'll see a big space in your yard and a bigger space in your soul where there could have been a tree. Then you'll think, "My God, what sort of treeless life did I live?" Then, not long after that, you will die. Fortunately, it's still not too late. There's always next Arbor Day. You better believe I'll be celebrating it. If you're lucky, I'll give you another chance. The party will be on the same day it always is, the last Friday in April, so mark your calendars, and I'll see you there. Yeah, right.