Monday, December 17, 2012

Make mine a real tree

When it comes to Christmas trees, for me it's got to be the real thing. It may be because I was raised on a Christmas tree farm, in a family of tree farmers. It may be because I'm a Forester and have devoted my education and career to the growing, maintaining and harvesting of trees. Maybe it's because I've never had anything else. I'm not sure, but I do know that somehow it just wouldn't be right without a real tree in our house at Christmas time.

Searching for the right tree.
It all starts with my favorite part, Christmas tree hunting. For me this is a great day in the woods with Whitney and the dogs, and by now it's a family tradition. With hot cocoa in thermoses, we head out to one spot after another that we've thought would have good prospects, we spot trees, we shake snow from their branches, we compare their qualities and finally sooner or later the perfect tree jumps out at us. Or at least that's what is supposed to happen but like hunting most things, usually that's not exactly the way it goes.
In years past, we've chosen trees by headlights and flashlights because it got dark before we found the right tree. One time several years ago, we wound up having two trees because we picked one for Whit's house in Missoula and one for my place in Plains and then kept them both when we celebrated the holiday together. One year we helped Whitney's parents pick a tree that traveled clear back to Oregon with them. A couple times we've even gotten trees where it wasn't exactly legal (don't tell). And this year our tree was enjoyed by two different Christmas parties before coming home to our house. The point is choosing the right tree is often as much fun as having the tree in the first place, and no two years are exactly alike just as no two trees are exactly alike.

After the tree is chosen, it's time to cut and trim the tree, load and haul the tree and finally get it into the house and set up in the stand. All this even before it gets decorated! I guess from that perspective it's no wonder some people choose imitation trees. But if you're like me, and you're into the tradition of choosing a tree to bring into your home to be decorated and celebrated during the Christmas season, the time involved in the process is all part of the joy of the season. Yes, I really do turn on Christmas music and pour a glass of eggnog while decorating the tree (I'm that kind of dork)!
Our 2012 Christmas Tree
Yes, a tree must die in order to come into the house and become a Christmas tree. But in it's place there will grow a new tree because that is perphaps the tree's best and most important quality. They regenerate! Everyday, year in and year out trees are seeding, sprouting, and growing. That is one trick a fake tree will never be able to do.
So if your reading this and you have a fake tree in your home, then by all means enjoy it. But for the rest of you go out and get a real tree. Support tree farmers or your public lands by purchasing a permit to harvest a tree. And this year, while you're celebrating Christmas, celebrate also our greatest renewable national resource. Our trees.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Well said, Kyle. It's just not the same without a real tree. I know because I have had to have a fake tree a couple times when spending Christmas at my grandparents' in their later years. They didn't want to mess with the hassle of the real ones anymore. I'm living vicariously through your post right now, because it has been two years since I've been able to be apart of the Christmas tree hunting. I just don't get home for Christmas early enough to go with my parents to get it anymore - sad. The tree hunt is one of my favorite parts, though. I was always the pickiest in the family about finding just the right one. It took forever because it had to be perfect :) But I didn't mind it taking long. I loved being out their trudging through the snow running from tree to tree and finding places to cross Swamp Cr (where we usually cut ours) without getting wet (which happened quite often). It was truly like a Winter Wonderland out there for me while searching for THE TREE. Also, you are definitely no dork! Listening to Christmas music while you decorate is a MUST! How do you decorate it any other way, unless you are a Scrooge? Merry Christmas! Thanks for another good post. I always enjoy reading them, Kyle. Miss you guys!