Cutting the Christmas tree ourselves is a significant tradition that dates well back to the years before I was married, with the whole family going together to select and cut it, as we still do. The ranks have grown considerably over the decades and have included guests from foreign countries.

This year we went to our favorite tree farm on a hillside outside the quaint hamlet of Singers Glen with all of our children and grandchildren, the youngest just four months old. Quite an adventure. The little people were especially excited, but a good time was had by all. Finding the candy cane tree is the ultimate challenge. Weary from the steep incline, three yr. old granddaughter Emma confided to me, “Dumma (as I’m called because our oldest grandson couldn’t say his G’s so Gumma became Dumma) this gonna be a hard day finding that candy cane tree.” But we did. A happy shout from our son-in-law sent everyone tramping off down another side of the hill.

To mix things up this year, my college art major daughter, Elise, suggested we get the ugliest tree we could find for our immediate household and see what we could do with it. Six year old Ian thought this was a great idea, however, after he’d helped cut it, Ian asked, “Dad has out tree, right?” He didn’t want to get stuck with a dud. 

The couple who own the tree farm were glad someone still liked Charlie Brown trees, thinking they’d never sell this one. Not only do they have a beautiful farm, but a wonderful old spring house where the wife serves hot chocolate and visits with guests by a cozy fire in the vintage hearth and children are invited to choose an ornament to take home from their decorated tree. This is the best Christmas tree farm ever.

Visitors from China who’ve stayed with my parents over the years have found this tradition of trekking off to cut an evergreen ourselves rather fascinating, as they do the whole concept of stuffing a large tree into our house and decorating it with eclectic baubles, like the glittered light bulbs our son made when he was in first grade, or the dough angel with glasses my brother created some time ago. But that’s another story.

In the beginning of our marriage my hubby didn’t yet grasp the importance of this communal tree-gathering experience, the snow or mud squelching beneath our boots, haggling over the merits of every pine and spruce on the tree farm honored by our presence. Shortly before December 25th, that first year of wedded bliss, DH turned up with a tree he’d purchased from the local rescue squad––already cut.

I sadly contemplated the little evergreen and tried to make it my own, but this was not to be. Realizing his gross error, Dennis accompanied me at his first opportunity to a neighbor’s farm where we were given free rein to choose a tree from the field that had gone to cedars. After careful searching, he sawed down the tree of our choice, with far less debate than there is now with all the added opinions.

Still, there were difficulties. We hadn’t ever cut a cedar on our own before and didn’t realize how they sometimes grow. When we cut the trunk shorter to fit in the stand, it fell apart into three trees, none of them suitable. 

My father, a veteran cedar cutter, took me for the third and final time to choose a tree from the farm our family had traditionally patronized. By this point Dennis, Mom and Dad all agreed that I was becoming somewhat obsessive about the whole thing and perhaps there’s some justification in this, but the pressure was on to select the most perfect tree ever, like Papa Bear in The Berenstein Bears Christmas.

We finally found one, after considerable searching on my part and growing impatience on my father’s, not to mention cold feet. I decorated it lovingly in the little apartment Dennis and I lived in then, but I didn’t bask in its presence for long. The apartment just wasn’t home, so I spent most of the holidays at my parents’ house in front of their tree.

This year Elise and I decorated our ‘challenged’ tree with strings of popcorn and lights, as it’s rather skimpy to hold the traditional ornaments. All in all, it’s not a bad little tree. Quite pretty, really. Ian is impressed.

*Pics are of the grandchildren, my daughter and daughter in law, the hearth in the old spring house.


  1. Judy // December 22, 2010 at 12:04 PM  

    Cute post, Beth. Love the idea of picking a perfect tree and cutting it. Though we don't cut our own, we do struggle to find the "perfect" tree. For the last two years, we've had a perfect fake tree, decorated with Mark Roberts elves, though I still dress the house from top to bottom. Xmas is such a fun time of year, even though a lot of work is involved. But sitting back, seeing the lights on the inside tree, walking through the neighborhood admiring the outside lights, it all seems worth it...

  2. Mary Ricksen // December 22, 2010 at 12:39 PM  

    There is nothing to compare to sharing an event like picking that special tree with family!
    The only thing that would have perfected this blog Beth, is a picture of the tree all decorated!
    Merry Christmas and may you and your family bask in the light of that tree and prosper!!!

  3. Mona Risk // December 22, 2010 at 2:26 PM  

    What a wonderful experience to pick up and saw your own tree. I wish I can do it once in my life. I bet the grandchildren will never forget this Christmas time.

  4. Joanne // December 22, 2010 at 4:26 PM  

    Your posts are always so enjoyable and heartfelt. What a wonderful idea to choose a "Charlie Brown" tree. Pics were beautiful, as usual.

  5. Beth Trissel // December 22, 2010 at 5:10 PM  

    Thanks guys. I'll see if I can get our photographer daughter Elise to take a pic of our humble tree.

  6. Mary Marvella // December 23, 2010 at 12:15 AM  

    I loved this post! Sorry I was gone so long and didn't get by earlier. Loved the photos and the stories.

  7. Nightingale // December 23, 2010 at 9:19 AM  

    Being a city dweller now, I envy your tradition of tree choosing. My favorite Currier & Ives story is from Miami. My friend and I went in my Miata to a store to purchase a tree. It was in a box, which she held on the deck (top down) in a misty rain. Taking the tree home!

  8. Autumn Jordon // December 23, 2010 at 9:30 AM  

    Oh, I love your DIL idea!! You need to post pictures.

    Each year we search for the tree with the bird's nest. It is said to bring good luck. We don't find one every year, but grandme saves the bird nest from the year prior, just in case. The kids have a ball searching.

    I'm proud of my friends. This year the tree in the White House Blue room comes from thier farm. It's the second time they've visited the White House. They've put our little town on HGTV. LOL.

    Merry Christmas everyone.

  9. Beth Trissel // December 23, 2010 at 8:54 PM  

    Enjoyed your story Linda, and very kewl about your friends and the White House Christmas tree.