Growing up in my parents' house, the Christmas season began with Advent, not Black Friday, and lasted until January 6 - the celebration of Epiphany. This meant not one ornament, nativity scene, or wreath was removed until the wise men had delivered their gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And the tree - the one "we" (mainly my mother) painstakingly picked out and meticulously decorated - shone brightly with multi-colored lights every night even after we returned to school from winter break. Nowadays, people seem to hang decorations as soon as the Thanksgiving turkey is carved and there are scarcely any vestiges of Christmas to be seen by New Year's Day.
So, whether your traditions include chopping down your own Norman Rockwell-worthy tree or adorning something more akin to Charlie Brown's, when the branches start to brown and that heirloom glass ornament is looking precarious, it's time to un-trim that tree and kick it to the curb - literally. Houston and the surrounding areas offer several ways to recycle your tree after the holidays. Be sure to remove all tinsel, lights, ornaments, stands, etc beforehand (flocked trees are not accepted). And if you need to get rid of holiday string lights, bring them with you when you check out Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo. There is a receptacle near the entrance and lights are accepted until January 15.