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Joe Hyndman recycles puts one of his family's Christmas trees on a pile at the Hamilton County Recycling Center on Crabtree Road on Monday, Dec. 28, 2015, in the Middle Valley community near Chattanooga, Tenn.
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Joe Hyndman recycles puts one of his family's Christmas trees on a pile at the Hamilton County Recycling Center on Crabtree Road on Monday, Dec. 28, 2015, in the Middle Valley community near Chattanooga, Tenn.

Tree recycling locations

Standifer Gap Recycling Center
7625 Standifer Gap Road
423-855-6125
Open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Highway 58 Recycling Center
5414 Highway 58
423-326-0992
Open Monday and Wednesday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Sequoyah Recycling Center
9525 Lovell Road, Soddy-Daisy
423-842-2391
Open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Red Bank Recycling Center
4851-B Dayton Blvd.
423-876-2010
Open Tuesday and Thursday. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Middle Valley Recycling Center
1868 Crabtree Road, Hixson
423-843-9317
Open Monday and Wednesday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

The Yuletide cheer has passed. Which means life for the domestic Christmas tree just got bleak.

"My wife and I just have a philosophy," said John Marshall, 49, as he unstrapped a skinny Douglas fir from the roof of his car Monday. "As soon as it's over, it is over."

By "it's," Marshall means Christmas. And by "it is," he means decorations. And that means ornaments, wrapping paper, tinsel, white lights, blue lights, all of the lights. They all must go. Unlike its fellow holiday decorations, though, the Christmas tree must leave altogether, never to be stored and uncovered once the air cools and the leaves fall and the holiday flavors return.

Until the end of January, residents can dump their trees at five different recycling centers operated by Hamilton County. Each center has a designated space outside the gate for Christmas trees. And each pile will be harvested into mulch by the county's Highway Department, spread with cheer to various walking trails, landscapes and ground covers.

At the Middle Valley Recycling Center off Crabtree Road in Hixson, the tree pile was about 12 deep on Monday. And Marshall was determined to make it 13.

The 49-year-old, born and raised in Chattanooga, said he took the day off to clear the house of Christmas decorations. He and his wife of 12 years didn't receive any presents. They spent their money on others and decided the Jeep Wrangler they purchased in April would be a suitable gift. He dumped out a bucket of holiday brews, which clanged in the dumpster, and sported a jolly disposition.

And the tree? Get out.

James Ireland, a former county employee who operates the center alongside his wife, Geraldine, said the tree pile started forming Saturday, when 238 people passed through Middle Valley. Ireland clicks a counter every time a car rumbles into the lot. As of noon Monday: 79 people. That figure was bound to exceed 180, the center's daily average, Ireland said.

Joe Hyndman, 44, of Soddy-Daisy, was one of the recyclers. And he went hard. He didn't just dump one Christmas tree. He dumped two.

"It's my wife," the 44-year-old explained. "The day after Christmas, everything's down."

Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at zpeterson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347 with story ideas or tips. Follow on Twitter at @zackpeterson918.

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John Marshall recycles his family's Christmas tree at the Hamilton County Recycling Center on Crabtree Road on Monday, Dec. 28, 2015, in the Middle Valley community near Chattanooga, Tenn.
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