On Chopping Perfect Christmas Trees

Last night, Noah decorated his third Christmas tree for his first Christmas.  Well, he played while we decorated.

Because my grandmother was allergic to evergreens, I grew up with a plastic tree we assembled every year after bringing it down from the attic.  Not until I was married did I have my own live tree.  Now I get to decorate three trees a year: our own, my parents’, and my in-laws.

My wife comes from the home of the perfect Christmas tree, a little town called—I’m not kidding—Spruce Pine.  Since we got married we would always drive up there and pick a Christmas tree from this nice guy who sold trees at a reasonable price, and even offered us a deal on grass fed beef (we had to decline—we don’t eat that much beef).  We’d stuff it in our Corolla, shoving it in the trunk and yanking it through.  We would drive three hours with a tree between us.  A child’s car seat prevents us from doing that ever again.

This year we got a tree for my in-laws before Thanksgiving, meaning we couldn’t get one from the nice man that opened his place after Thanksgiving.  So we looked for others.

Let me tell you how to not buy a Christmas tree.
the-year-of-the-perfect-christmas-tree

There’s something special about hunting for your own tree, cutting it  from its place and taking it home fresh (or getting the guy who owns the farm to do it so as to avoid legal liability).  North Carolina boasts the most organic tree farms and ranks second in  the nation for number of trees sold

Don’t drive to the first place we found.  At this enterprise, Christmas tree hunting is a theme park experience.  You check in, you find a tree, and you get sucked into a lot of trees surrounded by giant blowup Santas.  They also offer a train ride, an ice castle, Santa’s lap, a restaurant, balloons, a juggler—all of this if you buy your tree at a higher price than most tree farms.  As if getting a tree itself isn’t special enough.  We didn’t come to see giant balloon Santas and go on a train ride.  We came for a tree.  We wanted to feel like we were walking into the woods and felling a wild tree like our brave pioneer ancestors.

So we left.  We found a place that sold us a tree at $32, hardly more than our usual cost at the farmer’s place.  Nothing but trees.  Because you see, getting a tree and decorating it is it’s own adventure.  Don’t distract me with extra thingamajiggery to justify a higher price.  It’s a Christmas tree.

The other day we found a place that sold trees nearby, so we could still have our fresh green tree hunting experience.  A decent five-footer that could fit in our trunk and make it back through town.  They just sold trees, and that’s all we needed.  Ok, so they also had hot coco and cider.  It was free, though tips were encouraged.  It still felt like a genuine tree hunt.

Please don’t turn your tree farm into a Disney Santa tree park.  Make it feel like a real hunt, like you really wandered into the forest and found a tree.  Then let us dream up our own decorating festivities after we tow it home.

An acre of fir trees produces enough oxygen for 20 people, and is a resource we renew every year.  They grow in places that won’t take any other crops, and they provide shelter for the beasts of the earth.  It’s a very green industry, the selling of evergreens. Of course, a lot of families can’t afford a tree every year.  Fake trees cost a couple hundred but last nearly forever.  A lot of people are going for that instead of the yearly cost and hassle of a real fir.

Tree hunting is one of the few things about Christmas that isn’t already too commercialized.  We’ve done enough to transform it into a “we-cut-and-bale-it-for-you” industry, which is fine as long as we leave it at that.  No blowup Santas.  No train rides.  No juggling elves or Christmas songs blaring over speakers through the cultivated forest.  And no hiked prices.  I promise I’ll always patronize you if you remain pure.

Now the star goes on top.

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