As we were driving through Auburn on our way to our Thanksgiving feast we passed countless Christmas tree lots that were in various forms of erection. My son’s eyes grew wide and his excited voice came form the back seat “Are those Christmas trees? Is it getting to be time for Christmas?” My husband and I looked sideways at one another and I answered “Yes Koda, those are Christmas trees, and they are getting ready to sell them.” He literally squealed from the excitement as he did a little “Santa is coming” dance in his seat. So once the Thanksgiving feast was over and we were driving back home, it started….the asking, the pleading, the almost demanding….”Can we decorate the house today?” He loves Christmas and everything that goes along with it. His eyes get bright at the spotting of nutcrackers, he loves to see Santa’s with their big fluffy beards and probably most of all…he loves the trees. After all this is the kid who goes for daily morning walks hugging the pine trees the whole time we are camping, so I guess it comes natural to love being able to bring a real living tree into the house and let it’s scent fill the walls we call home.
We usually keep it modest and only get a fairly small 5 ft tree from our local lot. This year however, we are going to go the route of choosing a local tree farm and giving him the experience of picking it out and chopping it down ourselves. It is a really fun thing to do, and also re-connects families with the outdoors that they may have been staying in from because of the cooler weather.
Tree farms are great, they are a source of providing natural, real, green trees for us to enjoy and many also provide a fun, tradition building experience to go along with the tree cutting. You can find delicious baked treats, warm and yummy hot drinks, sleigh rides, animals, and the feeling of being a lumberjack for the day with hands covered in sap from an honest day of fun and tree cutting.
Real trees are also a green choice to go with if you are conscious about the environment. The are specifically grown on farms as a renewable resource that does not affect the natural forests, they are carbon neutral and absorb CO2, replanting or composting is a great earth friendly way to dispose of the tree, and they are biodegradable and almost chemical free. Artificial trees offer a fairly mess free holiday where you don’t have to clean up pine needles, but once the limbs are too bent out of shape, and the tinsel no longer sparkles, they are made of materials that will stay sitting in landfills for years to come and are made from chemical filled non renewable resources.
So now that the tree hugger in me is done with the green goodness of real trees, I will hop down from my tree stump and get on with a few basics of visiting a tree farm that may prove to be helpful to you and yours.
- *Visit local tree farms and support the farmers and businesses that need that final year end push of support. Most of these farms are on beautiful acerage with a lot to see. For a listing of local tree farms , please visit: http://www.gardens.com/go/browse/christmastrees/California/all/ or http://www.pickyourownchristmastree.org/CAxmastrees.php or for another listing by county please visit: http://cachristmas.com/ChooseandCutFrame.html
Two favorite stops are Billy’s Farm in Wilton (only open on weekends), and Davis Ranch out in Sloughhouse (We went to Davis Ranch this year). Lots of great stuff for the kids at Billy’s including animals and a selection of Christmas crafts for sale. Also of note at Billy’s is December 12th. It is their annual kid’s day where they feature face painting, ornament making and cookie decorating all free to kids 10 and under. To visit their website, please visit: http://billysfarm.com/index-1.html Visit Davis Ranch’s website at http://www.davisranchproduce.com
*Always call ahead to the tree farm that you choose to make sure they are open and if there is anything else that you should be aware of like a closure due to a storm. This is also a good opportunity to ask if they provide saws, or if you need to bring your own. Some tree farms will let you choose your tree, but they will cut it for you. You can also ask if they have wheelbarrows to help transport your tree back down for the shaking and strapping to the car.
*Bring rope and bungee cords, because most farms will help you tie it to your vehicle, but don’t always provide rope or twine to do so. It is also good to bring an old sheet or plastic to cover the top of your car with to protect it from sap and scratches while transporting your tree home.
*Wear layered clothing and good strong, sturdy shoes for the whole family. Some of the terrain on these farms can be a little bumpy or dirty. You may want to choose old clothing that you don’t mind getting a little dirty, sappy, or possibly torn
*Bring a sack lunch or snacks, even though the farm may have refreshments, they don’t always have food items .
*Don’t forget the camera! There are prime opportunities for Kodak moments on these kinds of trips…it would be sad to forget the camera and miss those opportunities.
*Not all tree farms use pest control products in order to keep the trees green, safe and chemical free, so check your tree for wildlife both before cutting and after to make sure you aren’t bringing home any unwanted guests. A good inspection and a good shaking usually alleviates this issue.
*Check to see if the farm has a website and look for other fun activities depending on the age of your children that will add to the overall experience of going out to the tree farm. Most will offer a little something like a hay/sleigh ride, petting zoo, etc..
*Before you choose and cut the tree, make sure you take into consideration the ceilings in your home and the height of the tree. A good rule of thumb when determining the proper height for your tree is: Height = room height, minus tree topper (1ft), minus height added by the tree stand, minus height of any base or table put under the stand, plus the bottom of the tree removed (for a fresh cut to absorb water) = the height of the tree to buy at the farm.
So now that all the basics are covered, and your mind is a little sore from a Christmas tree word problem…take the family, visit a local tree farm and start or continue a great winter family tradition. Then take home your tree and enjoy!
A very good and wise friend told me recently that “Children are the Christmas spirit” and I whole heartedly believe that. It is magical to see it all unfold in their eyes, all the wonderment and promise that the holiday brings to them and how they inspire us through that excitement. It is a small thing like visiting a tree farm and giving them the new experience that we as parents can help to create and foster a little of that magic and spirit on our own as an entire family. Seeing my son’s enjoyment and excitement has definately put the spirit in me this season, and I hope this post helps to bring some of it to you and your family.