Monday, December 16, 2013

Shopping Hardy

We found the wood ornament in the walls of this house
when we were remodeling.
For my winter hardy readers, here’s a tutorial on cutting your own Christmas tree.

Illinois Christmas tree farms by county on

Neighbors trying to make a living off the land run these farms.  They don’t destroy the land; they’re good stewards of a natural resource. 

I’m not suggesting you don’t use an artificial tree or you don’t buy a tree from a local retail store.  What I am saying is don’t buy into the guilt about cutting and using a live tree some folks dribble out this time of the year. 

Because it’s such a seasonal business, many tree farms offer additional attractions for family fun.  For instance, Webers Christmas Forest in Geneseo has hayrack rides, petting zoo, draft horse rides and a food booth.  In addition to trees, many have wreaths, roping, swags, and food.  

To answer your question, “Why would anyone want to go out in the cold and cut their own tree?”  My answer is because it builds a family memory for children.  With the right attitude (and warm clothing), tramping through acres of fields looking for just the right tree is family fun.  Arguing over the long needle vs. short needle vs. blue vs. green is part of the day.  Realizing the tree that looked so reasonably sized is actually two feet too tall for the living room and so wide you have to remove two chairs is the stuff that makes family lore.

Nature's decorations.
Who hasn’t seen a Christmas movie where a tree was strapped to the top of an old station wagon and thought, “Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about”?  And no one has sawed down a tree and tried to fit it into a base that will hold water without feeling pride when the project is completed. 

Then there’s the whole process of turning a real tree this way and that, placing ornaments to fill in the natural gaps and using fingernail polish remover to get the sap off little fingers sticky from “helping”. 

Is using a real tree easier than an artificial?  Absolutely not.  Is it more fun?  Absolutely!  The trick to making it a “GOOD” family memory is keeping your sense of humor, not resenting the effort, letting little hands help and did I mention keeping a sense of humor?

Yes, real trees fall over, must be manipulated, are never perfectly shaped, take constant watering and require more clean up when done.  On the flip side, they make a good story year-after-year.  Seriously, who doesn’t have at least one story of tying a tree to the woodwork because it fell over?  Or, the year you found a bird’s nest nestled in the branches?  Or, the tree that lost all the needles within the first week? Or, the wonder of little kids involved during the whole process and their eyes when it’s all done and “they helped”?

A few hints from your friendly neighborhood tree farmers:

Best Christmas trees are decorated by kids.
Grasp a branch between your thumb and forefinger and pull it towards you.  Very few needles should come off in your hand if the tree is fresh.
·      Loss of brown needles is normal but you should not see an excessive amount of green needles fall to the ground.
·      Make sure the tree is straight. 
·      Make sure the base will fit in your tree stand.
·      Cut off a couple of inches and put in the stand and add plain warm water.
·      I always put a felt backed plastic tablecloth down first (plastic side to the floor.)  This protects the floor and lets you slide the tree if necessary.
·      If the tree has been wrapped, let it stand in the warm house until it has released it branches back to their original shape.
·      Keep away from fireplaces, radiators, television sets, and other heat sources.
·      Check the water level EVERY day.  Typically it will take several quarts of plain water every day, perhaps more in the beginning. 
·      Don’t use sugar or other solutions in the water.  It only makes a mess and doesn’t actually do the tree any good.
·      Best trees for fragrance, needle retention and needle softness:, Concolor Fir and Fraser Fir.

All right hardy souls:  go out and make a good Christmas tree memory.

No comments:

Post a Comment