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There's Something Special About a Real Christmas Tree

Father and daughter go tree-hunting in the rain.

You haven't read about my adventures with real Christmas trees for a while because once our son, Daniel, went off to serve FFA for a year and then to Purdue, the push for a real Christmas tree went with him. Besides, my wife still complains about all those needles in the carpet. So for the last couple of years, we opted for an artificial tree. Christmas happened just the same as it would have otherwise. After all, Christmas isn't about trees, it's about a cross made from a tree and the man who was born just to hang on that cross, so that imperfect people like me could seek forgiveness.

Anyway, Indiana Christmas tree growers, don't despair. This year, our 17-year old, Kayla, decided we should get a real tree again. Her mom was easier to convince this time around because we already replaced the carpet in the room where the tree goes with laminated floor. Needles are much easier to sweep up on a laminated floor instead of carpet. Or at least they better be- that was part of the selling point for this return to the natural look now sitting in the corner of our family room.

One of the tree farms we once visited has closed down, but a new one has opened only a few miles away. Trees by Dehart in the rural Trafalgar, Ind., area has planted a lot of acres to trees, and they have some great mature trees to pick from. The only problem was that when it came to the day to get the tree, it was raining- an all- day rain. In fact it rained for three days straight. Where was all that moisture when we couldn't buy a rain last summer?

The only saving grace was that Kayla, suffering from a cold, didn't feel like making the excursion. So just me and her older sister, Allison, set out to find the tree farm, hoping they were still open on such a nasty Sunday afternoon. Picking out a tree with one daughter is frustrating enough- with two- well, it's torture! We found it, and they were open, huddled up inside a little barn they built just for tree sales. They even had hot chocolate available for anyone brave enough to come get a tree on a day like this,

"Are we your only customers  today?" I asked the gentleman who stepped out of the tree shack. Surely no one else was dumb enough to go after a Christmas tree in the rain on a Sunday afternoon.

"Oh, no, we've sold about 20 today," he replied, and seemed happy with that number. Before we left, whole carloads of families piled out of cars, pulled up their hoods and headed off into the young pine forest. They must have followed us in.

He handed us a saw and we set out. The only thing about tree hunting with my oldest daughter, Allison, is the tree has to be perfect. It can't have any yellowing, it can't have big holes, the trunk must be straight, and it has to have a good top branch to put the tip-top ornament on.

So we studied trees in the rain for 30 minutes, and ended up with one 100 feet from the shed! Thank goodness it wasn't any farther away- wet trees are heavy!

But, hey, Allison, everybody at home claimed it was beautiful once it had lights on it. And the best part was it went into the stand on the first try. No fuss, no muss, no divorce court threats. Of course, I had Daniel do it before he left to head back to college that evening. But it was still a snap, he said.

So all is right with the world again. We have a real tree in our house. It may not make the meaning of Christmas any more real, but I have to admit it smells good in the family room with that pine scent in the air.

Here's hoping everyone has a Merry Christmas pre-season!
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