Friday, December 7, 2018

Christmas Tree Shopping

Growing up, I don't really remember having real Christmas trees. I know we did on a few occasions, but I only remember helping my dad put together the artificial tree each year.

The first year my husband and I were together, we were engaged at Christmas. I was living with my parents an hour and twenty minutes southeast of where my (then) fiancé lived. Because we had a tree at my parents' house and he had a tree at his parents' house, we did not decorate at his house. This also meant he did not have a tree there.

The following year, we were newly married when it came time to decorate. We went with my new in-laws to get our first real tree. There is a store near where we live called Prairie Gardens. This is a home decor store and is mainly full of holiday decorations this time of year. There are several locations within Illinois and their decorations are amazing. When we went shopping for a tree that year, Prairie Gardens did not have a great selection. There were a few nice trees, but nothing any of us wanted to buy at that moment as they were more expensive than we had planned. We left Prairie Gardens and went to Menards to look at their trees. We ended up buying a Fraser fir at Menards as they were cheaper and looked better than the trees at Prairie Gardens. We later learned this was a big mistake because the tree was super dead, didn't drink any water, dried out, dropped all of its needles, and basically became a big fire hazard.

Because of the troubles with the prior year, last year we looked into a tree farm. There are several well-known trees near us, but these trees become overrun and its hard to find a good tree unless you go early in the season. After some research, we found one pretty close to us which wasn't as well known. We went there and it was awesome! The weather was cold, windy, and terrible, but we enjoyed our experience anyway. We were with my in-laws again and both families found trees we wanted quickly. The farm shook the needles out and netted the trees for us while we paid. Our tree was gorgeous. It was some kind of a pine tree, smelled citrusy (almost like oranges), and was vibrant and alive the entire Christmas season. It hardly dropped any needles and I loved it!

We were planning on going back to the tree farm last weekend with my husband's parents. We met for breakfast first. The weather was rainy so my mother-in-law suggested we call the farm before heading there to make sure they were allowing people in their fields. My husband called and heard a recorded message saying the farm wasn't open at all during the 2018 holiday season. Bummer! We ended up going back to Prairie Gardens because my father-in-law heard they had gotten in a thousand trees from Canada. We searched through their trees for a while and bought the second tree we had seen. It's a Balsam fir and is very pretty. Here it is once we got in the house before we started decorating:

The first thing we did was put on lights. In previous years, we had put one strand of larger bulb lights on the tree. We had three strands of regular lights, but last year we put those lights outside. We are not going to have time to put up the lights outside this year, so we decided to put them on the tree. I love how many lights there are!!! With the lights only:

After a short break, we decorated the tree. I love decorating and looking at the ornaments we have accumulated over the last few years together... along with the ornaments we had prior to meeting. Since I moved out of my parents' house at 19, I have always topped my tree with a Santa hat and my husband is fine with this... I haven't found a topper I like better. Anyway, here's our finished tree prior to having presents under it:

It's so pretty and I love it! I love getting the occasional whiff of real Christmas tree. It smells awesome. I hope having a real tree each year can become a family tradition for us. Hopefully, the tree farm we used last Christmas opens back up because, again, that farm was amazing. It would be a great place to take our kids (our current one plus any others) in the coming years!

We finished decorating our whole house that night. I love Christmas! I have my grandma's Christmas village, but we aren't putting it up this year. We put it up the first year we were married, but haven't in the last two years as I have been unsure where it should go at the new house. However, I'm hopeful we can put it up next year as I think I've figured out where it will go. This collage has a picture of all of our decorations merged into one:

What are your holiday traditions? Do you get a real tree or have an artificial one?

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