This has become somewhat of a tradition for us. Christmas tree hunting the weekend of Thanksgiving. Every year has brought different weather. The first year was snowy and frigid. Last year was just a bunch of mud. It was cold, but the mud was inescapable. This year is warm. The trusty car thermometer said 49 degrees. Sunshine through high thin clouds produced a hazy warmth. Kids ran around in basketball shorts and Vail Resorts stocking caps while trendy couples in festive winter boots and sweaters straight out of your favorite fucking Instagram-worthy holiday gift guide. The smell of pine was intoxicating.
Minneapolis has several tree farms a short drive away. Pull out your map and draw a circle with a radius of 20 miles, hop on the freeway, drive away from town, and you’ll find one. The farm we visited the past two years has a sign on the gate informing tree hunters that they are permanently closed. It oddly filled me with holiday cheer. We don’t like pre-cut tree. Nuh-uh. According to Clark W. Griswold, Jr., if you don’t go into the woods–whether a tree farm or not–and cut it yourself, it’s not the full Christmas experience.
So here we go. Saw in hand, sled pulled behind, the perfect tree in range. We opted to hike to a plot of firs well away from the crowds and tractor rides. The 100′ x 100′ patch of Christmas trees hid a quarter of a mile down a trail through oaks and elms. White pines lined the plot. A small family hauled out a Fraser fir just as we arrived, leaving these hidden trees to just us. It wasn’t until our tree was on the sled that we saw anyone else, which is a far cry from the crowded experience of other tree hunters.
Apple cider and 13/10 good dogs and the smells of campfire and pine awaited us at the barn (it was really just a big garage filled with trees and some saws, but let’s call it a barn). Even Santa Claus was taking pictures with kids, that asshole. The efficiency of this place was exceptional. Within five minutes of bringing the tree to the barn (garage), it was shaken, trimmed, bagged, and waiting to be put atop the car. Before we knew it, we were on the way home with a misshapen tree that only a mother tree could love.