Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree!

"We are so much more than 'getting a Christmas tree.' We're about infusing the Christmas spirit and joining families together."
~Oney's Tree Farm
Now that the holiday season is in full swing, let's talk Christmas trees. But first things first. Do you prefer a real tree or fake tree? In my opinion, real trees are the only way to go. When I'm really honest with myself, however, I realize that my strong feelings on the subject are less about the tree and more about the past 18 years of memories that I have tied to getting a Christmas tree with my family.

Every year, right after Thanksgiving, my family bundles up, grabs the dogs, digs out the Charlie Brown Christmas CD, and piles into our suburban to head out to Woodstock, Illinois, for our annual visit to Oney's Tree Farm. We've braved sub-zero tempuratures, snow and wind because nothing will keep us from the hunt for the perfect tree.
Upon our arrival, we pick up our saw and discuss the type of tree we are looking for (although... I am not quite sure why this annual discussion takes place; we always end up with a Blue Spruce). 

Next we trek out to the vast expanse of trees and start our search. Trees we like are "marked," usually with a stick. (The real hunt is finding the marked trees when we are ready to make our final selection.)

Look at this gorgeous specimen; it's way too big for our homes, but it sure made a great backdrop for our holiday card pictures (another tradition we believe strongly in, but that's for another blog post).
 When we feel like we have seen all there is to see, or our feet are thoroughly frozen, whichever comes first, we pick our tree! Someone then has to get down and dirty and saw it down. It has never been me!
We always opt to carry our tree back to the main entrance for shaking and bundling. 
If you are not inclined to walk, however, the Oney's team can offer you a ride. Look at these beautiful horses!
Time for a quick shake, then it's through the nets.
We're now more than ready to head to the Christmas Shop's snack bar to thaw out and indulge in the annual fare.
Mom always has an apple donut, Dad and A.J. get the cinnamon rolls, Mark gets the chocolate covered pretzels, I get the frosted snowman cookie and we all enjoy hot cocoa or apple cider. Yum!
After snacks, time to shop! Look at these beautiful handmade wreaths! Now imagine how they smell!
This shop has everything from ornaments to decor items, handmade bows and, of course, stockings.

It's a wrap for another year! While this might seem like your average family outing, to me it is so much more. It's the singing in the car, the family time out in nature, the inside jokes (why do we have to take so many pictures), and most importantly, the memories that we have created year after year. In the coming years, our family will continue to grow, and I know I speak for A.J. and myself when I say, we can't wait to continue this very meaningful tradition with our own kids.

What are your family traditions? Tell us in the comments section.

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