I didn’t get to have this kind of adventure as a kid because we were Jewish and sorta-kinda did Hanukkah instead.*
On my part, this wasn’t for a lack of trying.
I still remember lobbying for a Hanukkah Bush—for all intents and purposes, a Christmas tree without any Christianity themed ornaments—one year. Using my tween reasoning skills, I explained that it could be small and decorated on
the cheap, with six-pointed stars made from origami sheets and blue and white construction paper chains. There
didn’t have to be any lights.
My mother was so appalled that I never brought it up again.
Still, even if we had been in the market for some sort of tree, buying a cut-it-yourself one wasn’t easily doable.
Mainly, this was because we lived in Southern California in a beachside city, where the only living pines I ever saw
were in city parks.
So, the kids I knew got Christmas trees from neighborhood pop-up lots, or if they were lucky, at a grocery or hardware store that gave away paper cups of hot chocolate and red-and-white striped candy canes. Other folks bought their trees straight off a train, most likely coming from Oregon.**
Then, while researching this post, I found out that even in my native land of palm trees and the Pacific Ocean, there were honest-to-goodness Christmas tree farms less than a 30-minute drive from our house.
Mostly, these cut-your-own places were directly underneath enormous power lines on land unsuitable for housing, but doable for hardy pine trees.
It turns out our local electric utility once offered long-term leases, allowing the trees to grow all year round. One woman remembers her family heading to the same lot, but at some point, the height of its trees was no longer to anyone’s liking. “So,” she says, “we would keep driving and follow the big power lines to find other tree farms.”
The Hubster didn’t need to look up in the sky for a Christmas tree.
Born and raised in Ohio, he and his first wife headed to one of many farms near their home. Each farm was about 80 acres, and while not every tree there was for sale, the sheer amount of land offered a lot of choices. And, rather than the Douglas firs or Monterey pines common to the West, these farms were full of blue spruces, whose needles are a silvery-blue hue rather than the dark green color that was familiar to me.
Bow saw at the ready, driving to these farms was an annual custom that eventually included the Hubster’s three now-adult daughters. But after the family moved to Southern California, the tradition stayed behind. When I told my spouse about my recent cut-your-own discovery, he said he hadn’t known such a thing existed.
Here in Southern Oregon, the Christmas farm we go to is called Rudolph’s.
While one assumes this moniker must have come from a certain red-nosed reindeer, it’s the farm owner’s first name. Balance issues don’t allow the Hubster to do the cutting anymore, but luckily, Rudy has helpers in golf carts who not only saw trees down, but pack them into cars or vans for a smooth ride home.
Not bad for $50, cash preferred.
For those who are younger, stronger and definite risk takers, the National Park Service in Oregon offers a much
Starting in November, the agency sells permits for five dollars a pop, which lets the buyer cut a tree from one of many ranges overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. Some areas allow five trees for this price, but there are several think-about-it-first caveats. One, the roads leading to these BLM lands are unplowed, so it’s paramount that the woods be exited before dark. Two, having tire chains, shovels and a tow chain are also highly encouraged. Lastly, it’s suggested that bringing an overnight survival kit is a very smart move.
As much as my spouse loves the forests that surround our home, I’m very happy this isn’t an option for us.
Perhaps more than anything, I’m thrilled that the Hubster’s Christmas farm trek has come full-circle.
This Girl Clown is pretty much along for the ride, but it has proven to be a terrific way to kick off the holidays.
* This GCD blog from a few years back has more details.
** Oregon is the number one producer of Christmas trees in the United States,
selling about 4.5 million trees per year with a market value of $104 million.