In our family during the Thanksgiving holiday, we do something different. Some go shopping, others watch football, and we go Christmas tree hunting... in the wild. For some reason, probably due to being thrifty, our family has always used red cedar trees as Christmas trees. They are native to our area and grow in abundance in old pastures and draws. They are free for the taking and is a renewable resource because for every one we picked, ten more lived to see another day and often more because the following year they got too big to be used.
After years of picking red cedars at one farm, we will generally switch to another farm to find more smallish trees to pick. This was probably the last year we will pick a red cedar at the current farm because we were literally down to only three choices that had any shape and would fit inside an average house. Since we only have one daughter of voting age, there was a unanimous decision by her in which tree to choose. Back in my youth with a younger brother, we often had to resort to flipping a glove (thumbs up or down) to decide. But since it was unanimous, my daughter pointed and I 'liberated the cedar from its earthly toil' as Pablo over at Roundrock Journal would say.
Back home we set it up in our stand and give it lots of water to drink. We always pour a good amount of green food coloring in the water which after a days time, greens up the tree considerable from its generally brownish green state we found it in. Then we let it stand for a day to absorb enough water so that the needles aren't so prickly.
By Friday evening or Saturday evening, our tradition is to then decorate the tree. Little Abbey was chomping at the bit to help with the decorating this year and pulled her most prized decoration from the boxes that I hauled up from the basement. She pulled out a gold colored bulb that she had painted when she was in preschool with some words. Excitedly she walked over to the tree and hung the bulb only to have it fall to the tile and shatter into a thousand small pieces. She retired into her bedroom to cry it out while I swept up the debris and then went to give her a pep talk. Eventually she regained her Christmas spirit and rejoined the tree decorating.
I've never understood why people pay hundreds of dollars for trees imported from other parts of the country. Although I understand why people go the artificial route, it has never been that way for my family as I continue the tradition that my father started when I was young. My oldest daughter enjoys it so much and perhaps my newest daughter will too, that they will carry it on with their future families. Perhaps in a few generations, there will be a run on red cedar trees in this neck of the woods.