The Christmas holiday seasons is one of my favorite times of the year (even though it is cold - poo on that). I love that there are so many traditions this time of year and as an adult with a small child I've been trying to carry on these traditions and even establish new ones. One of my favorite traditions revolves around the Christmas tree. In the past we've cut down our Christmas trees at my dad's farm, but as the years went by the tree selection became a little slim... unless we wanted to cut down a 25 foot tree just to use the top 8 feet... or even better, a tree with one or two sides. We've planted some new balsam firs, but they won't be ready for a few more years. For awhile we got our trees from Menards or Home Depot, but last year I was determined to find a cut your own tree farm, because picking them up at the local home improvement store just isn't the same thing. Last year, I had two tree farms highly recommended so we headed out towards one only to get lost. We happened across a different tree farm, but didn't love it enough to drive that far this year and didn't want to risk getting lost again.
My husband's biggest request this year was to find something closer and it turns out the other suggestion I received last year, Hansen Tree Farm, is closer to us. It was a little on the spendy side, but they sure do provide an entire experience... free cocoa, hot cider, hot dogs, Christmas sausage, gift shop, sleigh rides, kid's Christmas books read around a roaring fire by the author... it was quite the set up. I would recommend it if you are ok with spending a lot on your Christmas tree. The true test for us will be how well the tree holds up until Christmas.
This place was a well run establishment. When you pulled in you were greeted by a young woman who gave you a map and a saw, if needed, and walked you through what to do and where everything was. I'm not sure if I've ever met such an articulate, and charming 14 year old before. It set a good tone from the start. We then drove around, parked, and found our tree.
Last year we wildly misjudged the size of the tree we picked and ended up with a huge, fatty tree that seemed to take up the entire room. This year we looked for one on the small side and found one that is a perfect fit for our house. Once cut, we loosely tied it to the top of our car and drove over to where they shake and tie up your tree. They have you park and hand you a ticket to go pay for your tree in the gift shop while they do all the work. When you come out the tree is ready and securely strapped to the top of your vehicle.
When there is snow they have the horses pull a sleigh instead of a wagon. Riley told us she wanted to do this, but once we got to the farm she wanted nothing to do with it. Perhaps we shouldn't have gone during lunch time and right before nap because kiddo was a little on the fussy side when we were there.
The gift shop is also the place where you will find free food and drinks. Unfortunately, every time I tried to get some hot dogs they just ran out. After holding on to some hot dog buns for some time, scanning the store where there were people actually carving ornaments and kids painting them we decided to pay for our tree (and our carved Santa ornament, maple syrup, and maple sugar) and then I finally threw the buns away and we headed outside.
There we found a little log house that kids were playing in and a bonfire nearby. We decided to sit around the bonfire as a lady was reading a Christmas tree book she wrote for the kids. The kids were all very engaged in the interactive story and the fact that this lady wrote the book based on a tree on the farm just added to the whole quaint experience. I was half expecting Santa to show up with the Mrs.
After trying one more time to get our slightly fussy and somewhat timid kid to go on the horse drawn wagon without success we headed home. Normally, I want to get the tree decorated right away, but Riley was spending the night at her grandparents so we waited until the next evening when we were all home to decorate the tree together.
A couple years ago we decided to let Riley pick out one new ornament for the tree, but this year we somehow ended up with three new ornaments (see: husband with all the buying) and a smaller tree which ended up in her room.
|Putting the first ornament on the tree.|
My dad gave me this star when I was a little girl. It's nothing fancy, but it means a lot to me and I hope to pass it on to Riley as she gets older. Oh yeah, and Riley's really into 'silly pajamas' right now, hence the non-matching pajamas.
|This is the tree we moved to her bedroom.|
Next up? Christmas parties with friends and family, holiday parade, Christmas lights... I can't wait.