Soon after Thanksgiving Day, begins another holiday tradition. One that is awaited almost as much as Christmas itself. “Black Friday?” you say? Why no! It is actually Christmas Tree Weekend! This begins the time of year when every evergreen is trying to look its best among hundreds of others in the field or on the tree lot. As if to say to the families standing in line, “Pick Me, Pick Me!” The winners will find a place atop the family’s vehicle all bundled up and strapped securely from side to side to assure its safe ride home. You can’t mistake the event, as 1 in 3 cars, trucks, vans, and sport utility vehicles will be traveling the highways with this foreign object close overhead. Visitors come from all around to the NC Mountains to find their own special tree. For many it has become a family tradition that will be passed down for years to come.
The day trip is well worth the drive as this area is home to thousands of acres of tree growing farms across several counties in the Western Region of North Carolina. In fact, according to the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association, there are over 1,600 growers producing an estimated 50 million Fraser Fir Christmas trees growing on over 25,000 acres. Which means North Carolina ranks second in the nation in number of trees harvested; therefore, bringing all those visitors to our area the weekend following Thanksgiving! Hey, if you happen to be one of those driving up for the day, don’t forget to come and see us at our Boone Outlet! You might even run into Joe!
They come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. The Spruce Family brags of Blues, Norways, and Whites. There’s the Pines, White and Scotch, of course, but the Firs come in first with Douglas, Balsam, and the ever popular, Fraser. You really have all the variety you need when choosing which tree will grace your home at Christmas. They are rated by their pursuant with such standards as the longevity of the needles, with and without water, branch firmness, fragrance, shape, height, and needle softness. And perhaps the least or most concern, when choosing, is the cost. The type, height, and fullness of the tree, as well as, the location it is offered, is what will determine the amount you will invest in this beautiful bit of tradition. It seems, there is a tree for everyone, as everyone should have a tree.
A tree will have to grow, on average, about 7 years to be of a suitable size for the standard Christmas Tree. However, if you intend to supply the White House with a tree, it will have to be about 19- 20 feet tall! This takes years of watching and waiting for the tree to grow up to be the Nation’s Christmas Tree! This area’s growers, however, have had the privilege of trucking their trees to Washington on many occasions since the tradition began. This year’s tree was chosen from Peak Farms, a local grower, in neighboring Ashe County. What a special honor as it will be covered with hundreds of ornaments from all over the world, and viewed by millions of people during its stay in our Nation’s Capital. It was First Lady, Jackie Kennedy who brought the idea of decorating the tree in a special theme. She was indeed a trend setter in her time at the White House as the tradition continues today. The theme for 2012 is “Joy To All”, which celebrates the many joys of the holiday season in honor of our Armed Forces. The ornaments were supplied by military families living on bases all over the world.
I can’t remember a year without a Christmas tree at home. No matter what the year was like, pleasant or trying, my Christmas tree was the season’s first concern. Growing up in the mountains, we would often dig a tree, sometimes in the woods, with a large root bundle carefully wrapped in burlap. We would place the tree in a large washtub and keep the roots soaked for the duration of the holidays. I just loved the smell of the needles as they were warmed by the wood stove heat. The spicy and fresh smell of pine would fill the air. It was the scent of Christmas. After the holidays, we would find a suitable home in the yard for the tree, and throughout the years, we would mark our growth against its height.
Through the years, I have transitioned to an artificial tree, choosing the convenience, durability, and longevity over that wonderful smell. Even with the work of sorting the limbs and fluffing them into shape, my lifelike tree provides me with the pleasure of leaving it up for as long as I wish. With hardly any maintenance or attention required, I can enjoy the lights and ornaments from, as early as, the beginning of November until well after New Year’s Day. I just love looking at all of the decorations and ornaments, garland and tinsel, all wound up and around this stately tower, with a bright and shining star that shines to all below. All of the objects have special meaning and bring to mind those present and past. One ornament celebrates the year I brought my dog, Raisin, home from the Animal Shelter to live with me. Another is of The Mona Lisa, my namesake, given to me by my best friend. And even a pair of glass flip flops from the beach; I was looking for Cinderella’s glass slipper and found these instead! Nativities and angels, Santas and snowmen, candy canes, icicles that sparkle against the lights. I always seem to add one or two each year to the collection. I also try to paint some ornaments on watercolor paper, cut them out, and add a ribbon. You never know when someone unexpected will visit and this is something extra special to give at the last minute. Everyone loves a hand made ornament!
If a fresh cut tree is the way you go, don’t forget to attend to it daily and keep it well watered. You’ll need to keep an eye on the condition of your lights and cords to avoid any fire hazards. Also, when the time comes to take your tree down, be conscious of how you dispose of your cut tree. Many people will have theirs TreeCycled into mulch, or they can be used to protect areas from erosion. Some trees become homes for underwater creatures by being sunk in ponds and lakes. These are all great ways to extend the usefulness of your Christmas tree after the holidays. Check online for more ideas and resources in your area for TreeCycling your holiday tradition!
This time of year, I savor my time with my tree and enjoy it for all of the memories and joy it brings. I’m sure all of you have your own special memories of Christmas and all of the ornaments that grace your tree! It is a wonderful tradition that is shared by families everywhere. So you see, that tree in the lot or field, or even in a box, has a very special job to do. And when you go to pick out your special tree don’t forget, no matter how small, no matter how thin, every home needs a tree and every tree needs a home; to stand in the corner and hold on its branches, reminders of many of life’s special moments and all of those we hold dear to our hearts. Let us not forget what lies beneath our very special tree, all of the presents! Give Santa a hand this year, and shop online for all of the great deals from Cheap Joe’s to fill the wishes of every artist on your list!
Enjoy the Holiday Season and share some memories with your friends and family and make even more!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us at Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff!