Most of us have now accepted the idea of an ever-expanding holiday season, and once the Thanksgiving leftovers are put away, it’s acceptable for Christmas to begin. Regularly scheduled programming gets traded for Rankin/Bass TV specials, hazelnut creamer gets swapped for peppermint, and that old chair in the corner gets pushed aside to make way for the main event: the Christmas tree.
But therein lies the problem. Even with the best of care, a fresh tree bought at the grocery store will only last about three or four weeks after being cut. Calculating with transportation time from farm to store, that leaves you with a browning tree sometime around December 15.
This is why so many of us opt for the artificial tree. It stays green, you don’t have to worry about needles falling off and when the holidays are over, it just goes right back into the box until next year. But something’s missing.
Maybe like that sadsack Charlie Brown, we just can’t shake the commercial, unnatural feeling that comes with assembling your own aluminum Christmas tree every year. Or maybe we long for that scent of fresh pine and the outdoors you can only get up close while trying to pull the dogs away from drinking the stand water.
Whatever the reason, a fresh tree just feels right. And cutting it yourself is the best way to know that you’re getting a local tree that will last for as long as you need it to. For Scrooges who argue that cutting down trees is harmful to the environment, consider this: Christmas tree farms provide oxygen to the atmosphere during the years it takes the trees to mature. Demand for fresh Christmas trees will only lead to the planting of more trees. It’s the same as farming any other crop. Plus, that fake, non-biodegradable tree is only going to end up in a landfill someday.
So grab that rope and saw that are sitting in the garage, load the kids into the station wagon, and head to any of these Christmas tree farms in Texas. Some are nearby for convenience, but a few will take a bit of a drive, giving you that rustic getaway in the country that you’ve been pine-ing for.
242 Monkey Rd., Elgin
This farm is located just outside Austin and has been around since 1989, selling pumpkins in the fall and trees during the holidays. You’ll take a wagon ride out to their tree field, where farmers will help you cut the tree down, clean it and put a net on it so you don’t lose any branches on the way home. You can chose between Leyland Cypress trees or Virginia Pines, but if you’re a Christmas tree purist, Fraser Firs are also shipped in from North Carolina in refrigerated trucks.
And if you don’t get that Clark Griswold-esque gigantic tree you were hoping for, you can always head up to the Capitol Building in Austin to see their tree. Evergreen Farms often delivers trees to use in the décor, and has even given trees to George and Laura Bush during their time in Austin.
Old Time Christmas Tree Farm
7632 Spring Cypress Rd., Spring
A little closer to home, this hundred-year-old farm has been selling Christmas trees since 1996. You pick up your saw and measuring stick at the entrance, take a ride out to the field, pick a tree and cut it down. Once you’re done, you can get a wreath to go outside, sip some hot cocoa, and get a picture taken with Santa. One stop shopping!
Spring Creek Growers
23803 Decker Prairie-Rosehill Rd., Magnolia
Five-time winners of the Grand Champion Christmas Tree of Texas contest, Spring Creek Growers offers farm games, catch-and-release fishing, and fresh-cut or pre-cut trees.
But if you still can’t bring yourself to kill a tree, Spring Creek Growers offers Leyland Cypress Trees as living Christmas trees. They are kept in seven-gallon containers and can be moved outside once the holidays are over. I have no idea how you’d get something like this to your house. I imagine you’d need a truck instead of a hatchback. But it’s a good investment if you want to keep a bit of Christmas in your backyard all year long.
FM 362 and Morrison Rd., Brookshire
Just west of Katy, Dewberry Farm was originally meant to be a corn maze, but has since expanded to a pumpkin patch, petting zoo, and Christmas tree farm. You’ll have the choice of taking a hayride or train ride to their 40-acre Christmas Forest, where you can either cut the tree down yourself, or they’ll cut it for you. This is an especially good option, because we all think we’re Paul Bunyan until we actually get a look at the seven-foot tree we’re supposed to hack down.
In addition to the Leyland Cypress and Virginia Pine trees, Dewberry also offers Silver Smoke Trees, which have a silvery-bluish color instead of the pine green, which is what I imagine a tree might really look like when it’s below 30 degrees out.