Christmas is almost here and we're ready for it. The season begins with a Christmas tree for most families and ours was leading the way to Sorghum Mill Christmas Tree and Blackberry Farm this year.
If your family has young children and you've ever considered not buying a tree, since it does require some effort and is something you'll throw out in a few weeks, I have some advice to share: don't skip the tradition.
Last year, we skipped it because our house sold in late November and our closing date was Dec. 17. We planned to leave town for Christmas, uncertain the paperwork would be prepared in time for our baby's first Christmas; spending it at the Holiday Inn or at grandma's house was an easy decision. So there was no tree, since adding an eight-foot evergreen to a U-HAUL truck a week before Christmas didn't factor into the list of things I was willing to pack.
Sam and Isaac, then 8 and 3, noticed the tree's absence. It wasn't like other Christmases, even as we celebrated with family and signed our names on dotted lines to assure we'd have a home to back to after New Year's. They were used to a tree and I learned that the details really matter to kids in ways that adults quickly trade for practical reasons.
When we asked Isaac at Thanksgiving dinner last year what he was grateful for, he pointedly said "Trees." We took the hint.
This year, we decided to make up for last year's unusually chaotic holiday season by getting organized from the start: we dusted off the plastic containers of ornaments, found the tree skirt and set off to buy the best Christmas tree ever on Nov. 12.
We had visited Sorghum Mill to pick out a Christmas tree a few years ago, well into December, and everyone was cold. This year was completely different. The unseasonably warm November we've had made the experience feel more like a fun holiday picnic.
The ability to run and run across seven fields of Christmas trees, anxious to see all the choices and different varieties of trees, made the experience so much better than visiting a grocery store lot like we have in the past. My children remembered the staff's offer of hot chocolate, apple cider, cookies and candy canes too.
Walking through 45 acres of green space makes the season feel less stressful somehow.
It was a beautiful break from the hustle and bustle that's only just beginning.
My husband took the lead with the handsaw provided and set off with our sons to show them just how to cut down a tree, something I hadn't ever seen him do. Experience isn't needed, it turns out, and Sam is pretty sure he can do it next year. I doubt that's allowed but every kid needs something to look forward to about growing up.
We weren't sure what to expect with our visit and I could hardly remember this time around. Here are three things to know that can solve some doubts:
- You can cut your own tree or let a pro do it: There are pre-cut trees at the farm's entrance if you'd rather not hunt too long. What's great about cutting your own is that there's a golf cart service to help you get it back to your car at the front of the property. You won't be stuck hefting a 10-foot tree across a good-sized forest.
- There's no need to bring tools or rope: The saw to cut down your tree is provided. Rope is as well. Toolboxes, axes, bungee cords and shovels can stay at home.
- There's help to load your tree: I thought about taking just Sam and Isaac to pick out a tree but I wasn't sure I could carry, load and tie it down by myself. Staffers are on-hand to shake off excess needles, put the tree in a net and secure it to your car's roof.
Taking the time to get your tree the old-fashioned way is worth doing. I know it was memorable to Sam, who wrote about the experience in our December edition's Kid Review. You can find it online here the first week of December.
Our tree is set up in our new living room and everyone agrees it's the prettiest one we've had yet. Sometimes, absence does make the heart grow fonder. I'm glad to start the holiday season with gratitude for simple things like Christmas trees.
It really is the start of a beautiful season. Click here to find a Christmas tree farm near you!
Your family just might thank you.