Monday, December 14, 2009

A Christmas Tree Story

I wrote the following for the December issue of Knoxmoms magazine and thought you might enjoy it. If you'd like to read the entire magazine online, click here through the end of December.

Our oldest son Bobby had just turned two when we decided to cut our family’s first Christmas tree. Little did we know that this outing would not only start a family tradition but be the source of a developmental break-through for our son.

By age two, many kids are chatter boxes. Not Bobby. At his two-year check-up, the doctor was shocked he hadn’t even said Momma yet and ordered him to be tested by a speech therapist. I knew he was comprehending; he just wasn’t verbalizing.

That all changed the day we went to cut our own Christmas tree at White Pine Acres, a backyard tree farm in Karns. He loved running up and down the rows of trees and delighted in choosing “the best tree on the lot.” He watched Dad intently as he sawed, hauled, wrapped, and tied the tree to the roof of our car. On the way home Bobby cried out, “Tree…roof…Daddy’s car.” For weeks later, he eagerly recounted this experience with those same words. A light bulb had gone off and he was now on his way to becoming the loquacious child he is today.

The next three years we carried on this tradition at the Bluebird Christmas Tree Farm, since lack of rainfall had impacted White Pine Acres significantly.(Tip: This year White Pine Acres does have a few trees). Bluebird is located in Heiskell, TN, just 20 minutes from downtown Knoxville. Most trees cost $40 with a few exceptions. We like that there’s a good variety of trees including spruce, cypress, pine, and Fraser firs and that they provide free hot chocolate and cider. For other local tree farm locations, click here.

If you’re one of the 45 million American families who bring a real Christmas tree into your home each year, here are a few tips from the pros. As soon as you get the tree home, cut one-quarter inch off the base of the trunk. Keep the tree outdoors, standing in a container of water, protected from the wind and sun until you’re ready to decorate. This will help the tree retain its moisture. Before bringing the tree into your home and placing it in a stand, make another fresh cut and immediately fill the stand with water. Trees are VERY thirsty. They may drink between two pints to a gallon of water a day. Check the stand daily and supply fresh water as needed, never allowing water levels to drop below the bottom of the trunk. A healthy tree will last longer and drop fewer needles.

For our family, hunting for the perfect tree on a farm is as much fun as decorating it and a close second to opening the gifts underneath it. It’s also a tradition that reminds me how quickly the kids are growing up. Last year I couldn’t help but smile listening to Bobby, our tree connoisseur, exclaim, “Look at this one! It’s gorgeous! This one is perfect!”

Enjoy the video. By the way, we went back to Bluebird this year and got "the best tree on the lot!" Sorry, folks! ;-)

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