Several years ago, before Christmas, my family and a couple of friends had the grand idea that we would take on the adventure of cutting our own fresh Christmas trees. Generally one gets the idea that such an activity would be heart warming, perhaps create fond memories, or perhaps it could be the start of a new family tradition and/or some good wholesome quality time with family and friends. At least that was the visual I had. It became the first time and the last any of us would take on such a bold adventure.
At the time, my grandparents had a little home they generally used in the summer. A home nestled in a small town, in central Utah. This Christmas cutting tree activity was set out to be fulfilled within the day. It took about 2.5 hours for our caravan of cars to drive to our destination and then it would take some time to get to the mountains, but not too far.
And this is where the story begins. All of us got to my grandparents house, except for my sister, brother-in-law, and their kids. We were meeting there, as my mom had made a thermos full of homemade chili for lunch to be eaten before we set out into the great outdoors. Only, my sister and brother-in-law who had not made it, had the keys to the house and they also had the saws for the trees. We wondered if they had car trouble, since the phone was ringing inside the house, but we had no way of answering it. My mom decided to drive over to my dad’s cousin’s house to see if they could help, to see if they had a key. Being that my dad was not with us on this grand adventure, his cousin did not recognize my mom and was very reluctant to lend a saw, and sadly they did not have a key. My mom then went to the next door neighbor to see if they would help us out in our plight, thankfully they had a key! We were able to get into the house and answer the incessant ringing phone. Sure enough, their car did break down in a town that was an hour and a half away from where we were at, so one car went back to pick all of them up. Later, I remember my sister telling us that they saw us drive past them, and they tried to wave us down, but we didn’t see them. How frustrating that must have been!
The plan quickly changed of having chili for lunch before chopping down our Christmas tree, as it was now getting late and we knew we had to get to the woods before dark. We grabbed some snacks and piled into my mom’s one month old Honda Civic and the truck we had.
It was late, the sun would be going down soon, so you can imagine that it was getting pretty cold. It seemed to me that we had to hike farther in to get that perfect tree, since there had been a recent fire on the mountainside. We all got our perfect trees, I think there were 4 or 5 trees in the back of the pickup truck. We then returned to my grandparent’s house, ate our chili, and then headed back home in very crowded conditions being that we had one less car.
Two people out of the group got very sick, throwing up on the way home. I remember one of my sister’s relating to us that the heater in the car was cranked up all the way because my brother-in-law was so cold, and my sister could have sat in her swimsuit it was so warm in the car.
Oh we finally made it home. And quickly realized that you cannot judge how big a tree is in the outdoors. They were much larger than we thought, almost too big for our homes. Plus the tree dripped sticky sap on the floors.
And my poor mother, who had recently bought her Honda Civic, had a lot of paint chipped off because of the dirty, rocky roads we were driving on. My mother could have cried, I think she did in fact. Who wouldn’t have?
So, what was supposed to be fond memories of good quality time with family and friends became a memory of misery. It was not such a good experience, and I don’t see myself ever doing that again in the future. So, cutting a fresh tree down is out of the question for me.
Before and after this experience, one of our family traditions was to buy a “fresh-cut” tree at a local lot. This was a lot of fun, and I truly looked forward to doing this every year. I think it is something I would like to do in the future with my own kids, just to give them the experience. My only problem with doing it these days, is that those big banners on those Christmas tree lots advertise they have fresh cut trees, when they are now practically dead. I’m not sure what they are going for these days, but I remember my mom buying a good sized tree for around $50 or more and year after year, the trees were drier each year.
Sadly, but understandable, my mom eventually got an artificial tree. And while those are generally not inexpensive, after a couple of years of using it, you’ve gotten your money’s worth. In my own family now, we too have an artificial tree. It is easy to set up, the one we have has lights already on the tree, you just have to find the plugs throughout to get it turned on. It is not messy, there is no sap everywhere, or needles falling off all the time. It is also not a huge fire hazard like those claimed “fresh-cut” ones you buy off a lot. Of course, you don’t get that wonderful pine smell from a tree, but I figured if I got a candle that smelled like one, that was a good replacement for me.
So, what would I recommend? An artificial one because the only hassle I see in this tree is that the box is really heavy. But, at the same time, I think the experience of taking your kids out to find that perfect Christmas tree off a lot, despite the cold temperatures, strapping it to the top of your car and bringing it home is an experience that I really enjoyed and would love to have my children have those memories as well. I would also stress the caution of cutting your own tree down, even though you’ve planned the perfect outing, it doesn’t always turn out that way. And if you intend to cut one down yourself, you might want to bring a measuring tape to make sure it is actually going to fit in your house!