With rest of the month booked, Laurel and I went out to our local tree farm and cut our own Christmas tree today. We started this tradition many years ago when our girls were freshly from the manger. The first years we shopped at a tree farm that had a “Dollar Coral” because that was all we could afford. The trees from the Dollar Coral were a tall version of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. When that tree farm closed we went looking for a new tree farm to purchase our trees. We would shop a few other farms but we finally found Pleasant Valley Tree Farm and there our yearly memories were made. The girls would come home from their single lives just to go tree shopping with us. There were years when the temperatures were moderate and then other years, don’t skimp on the outdoor clothing or your eyes will freeze open!
Laurel and I drove out to Pleasant Valley Tree Farm. As we approached the entrance to the farm a man dressed for an artic expedition greeted each vehicle. He welcomed us to the farm and gave us a sheet listing the price of their trees and information on how to care for your tree. He directed us to the teenage boys waiting in the parking lot and they would direct us to a parking stall. We pulled our hats down over our ears, zipped our jackets tight to the chin and pulled on our gloves. We jumped out of the car and started our stroll towards the gift shop. Another young man greeted us and asked if we were cutting our own tree today. We said yes and he asked us a few questions and handed us a tag for our tree. We took a few more steps and then an older gentleman asked if we were going to cut our own tree. Again we said yes and he directed us to a wagon and said get on and they would take out to the field were the trees were being cut.
We waited on the wagon wondering when they were going to leave. The cold was starting to find its way deep under the clothing. All the sudden a large group of family members started walking towards the wagon and jumped on for the ride to the field. Children, parents and grandparents all as a family building their family memories cutting their own trees for the Christmas season. The temperature was about 15 degrees and a strong wind from the west. I would say the wind-chill factor was below zero. I noted a young child sitting on her mothers lap. She was dressed for the day and hade a blanket draped over for extra warmth. The only exposed skin was a small slit exposing her eyes. I noted a small tear on the child’s face not because she hated the ride or cold, but because the cold can find a tear in your eye and leave a small ice cube glistening on your cheek.
After a ride of about a half of a mile we exited the wagon. There is a large number of bow saws hanging on a peg and every saw seems to have a perfect fit to my hand. All I ask for each year is that they are sharp. I want to cut a tree down, not burn it down with friction! We also grab a 8 foot long 2X2 as a measuring stick. The stick helps us get the correct height and also the correct width. It is to easy to get a tree that is too tall. When we get the tree home, and it is too tall, the tree scraps a wild design in the ceiling of the living room. The two home we have lived in both have Christmas tree scraps in the ceiling.
We walked the Balsam Fir zone looking for the perfect “Martha Stewart” tree to grace our home. We spotted one and marked it with the saw and continued looking and found an even more perfect tree for us. I cleared the snow from the base and started sawing the tree at ground level. The saw had a reasonable amount of sharpness. I didn’t smell any wet pine smoke while cutting the tree. The tree fell to the ground as the saw made it way through the trunk.
I dragged the tree back to the area where we were dropped off from the tractor and wagon. In the area the workers asked a few more questions on the processing of our tree. They took our tree from me and placed it on a shaker. The shaker was used to remove dead needles, snow and any other materials caught in the tree. We have our tree drilled in the bottom of the trunk. Our tree stand allows us to simply set the tree on a spike in the tree stand and the display is done and perfect. They also do one last step, baling of the tree. It makes the trip home with the tree easy.
We load back on the wagon along with our tree and made our way back to the gift shop. With the wind at our backs the cold didn’t seem so bad. When we arrived a crew of young men showed up at the wagon and started grabbing trees to assist the customers with carrying the trees to their vehicles. We loaded our tree in the car and headed into the gift shop to pay for the tree and have some free popcorn, hot chocolate and hot apple cider. It is always a highlighted day to the start of the Christmas season.
When we arrived back home we found the tree stand and set the tree up. Laurel cut the twine from the tree releasing the branches to spread out. There was still some snow clinging to the branches and we allowed it to melt off throughout the afternoon. The smell pine filled the house and was most notable when we came in from outside.
This evening we strung the lights and hung ornaments. Some of the ornaments reminded us of past travels, family members who have passed and our love of animals. Laurel put a CD in the CD player of Amy Grant’s, A Tennessee Christmas and the home was filled with Christmas music while we decorated the tree. And so starts the Christmas season and time spent with family and friends.
Enjoy the Christmas season!