One of the really great things about having Christmas in Canada is that we always have a real Christmas tree, and we never have to pay very much for it. When we were kids, my dad would take us down to the local grocery store/Christmas tree lot, and we would go through the process of picking out the "perfect" tree. In my father's case, this required finding a tree of the right height, and then trying to find the straightest, most evenly cut tree. No guessing at bound-up trees for my dad - if the tree branches were bound up, dad would insist seeing the tree untied before he would agree to buy it. Then we would watch as dad hoisted the 6 or 7 foot tree onto his truck, and tied it down tightly. And always with his own ropes too - none of that wimpy binding twine for my father! :)
Once the tree arrived home, dad would set it up in a bucket in the car port, where it would spend the night drying out. No need to worry about melting the snow off the tree, since we lived in balmy Vancouver, but all the December rain usually made for a dripping wet tree... that, and the fact that the branches needed to fall back into their natural position, after being bound up tight while the tree was in transit and on the lot. After a night in the carport, dad would bring the tree into the house and set it up in one of his hand-made, very heavy, solid metal tree stands. There were several generations of these stands, all based on the usual square-ish, 4-6 inch deep cup, with huge bolts that screwed through the sides of the cup and into the tree trunk, so that it could be tilted and tipped and adjusted until it was standing perfectly. This stand, by the way, never stood on the floor. Dad didn't want to damage the floor, so he built a wooden box to rest the stand on.... thereby forcing us to have a shorter tree - the box was about a foot high, but (as dad explained it) creating more space to put presents under the tree.
Anyway, a few years ago, my family started going out to Christmas tree farms in the Fraser Valley and cutting down a fresh tree. My brother and I no longer lived at home, so the day trip to the tree farm became a fun excuse for the whole family to spend a little quality time together. So when Mike and I needed a Christmas tree for our Ottawa apartment last year, I suggested that we buy one from a Christmas tree farm out here. And same again this year, since we had such a great tree last year!
Here is our tree hunt in pictures:
Our day started with brunch at a local restaurant, which is something of a tradition here - almost every Saturday morning we have brunch with Mike's family. This is what the street looked like this morning, after all that snow I talked about the other day - the driveway has been ploughed, which is why there's such a huge pile in front of the house:
After brunch, we had to clean the car off before we could take it out. Yes, that's about 6 inches of snow on the top of the car... there was about twice that on the ground. This is what Canadians mean when they speak of snow. :)
Then we drove out to the Xmas tree farm, over on the West side of Ottawa. Keep driving until you get to wide open fields:
Here's Mike in the middle of this year's crop. When you get to the farm, they drive you out into the fields in the big wagon that you see in the background:
Once you've picked your tree, you cut it down and drag it back to the wagon:
When you get back to the car, you load it into the car, drink some apple cider, pay for the tree, and then take it home and set it up. Oh, and don't forget to put the Christmas tree bag underneath the tree, so that when you take it down in a few weeks, you can carry it outside without leaving a trail of needles behind you.
We'll decorate the tree tomorrow morning, after all the snow has melted off it... and after we bake the cookies that will decorate it! :)