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How to Choose a Christmas Tree

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dec3homespunweb.jpgBy Brian McDonald

RISMEDIA, Dec. 3, 2008-(MCT)-Thanksgiving? It’s come and gone. Your appetite? Satiated by monumental quantities of turkey, gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce. Now you can sit back, relax and wait for the next big holiday feast, right?

Wrong! Now’s the time to work up an appetite before the gluttony yet to come. Arise from your turkey stupor-you’ve got to pick out the perfect Christmas tree! The sooner you pick it, the longer you can enjoy the rewards. And if you wait, your neighbors might get to it first.

Explore the tree options available in your region and consider your tree ornaments, lights and the space the tree will occupy. For example, if you plan to adorn a Christmas tree with lots of draping garlands or big ornaments that require room to hang, make sure there are adequate spaces between the boughs.

When it comes to the “where” of picking a tree, you have three basic options: tree lots, tree farms or forest land. The most convenient choice, a tree lot, features trees that were already harvested from tree farms, so they would not be the freshest trees. But proceeds often go to local community groups and charities-you’ll pick your tree and do a good deed at the same time.

For those who want to travel longer distances, tree farms offer the opportunity to cut your own tree from the ground. Many farms bustle with visitors and offer hot cider and sleigh rides, but you can sometimes find that secluded, remote tree farm as well, far from any crowd.

Or this season, why not pamper your inner mountain man? (He likes to be pampered.) Large amounts of land are open to those who prefer to hike through actual forests to find their perfect family Christmas tree. You will need a permit, often available from ranger stations or local outfitting stores. The trees that grow wild will not be as symmetrical as trees you would find in a farm. Remember to be prepared with warm clothing and water, and be careful not to lose your way.
Wherever you decide to go, pick a hearty, robust tree. Does the tree have lots of brown needles or appear discolored for its species? Does it seem barer than it should? Can you easily cause needles to fall off simply by brushing your hand down a branch? The healthier it is when you bring it home, the longer your tree will thrive.

A Christmas tree is a profound symbol of the season. Once you’ve brought one home, you can look down at your hands, rubbed raw by the bark and needles and sticky from sap; clean up the sawdust from your garage, because inevitably the tree was too tall for your house; watch your cat eying the tree ornaments mischievously; and groan as the tree settles crookedly into its stand. And all of this will make you smile.

Brian McDonald is a senior editor at www.HowToDoThings.com. For related “How-to” articles, go to www.howtodothings.com/holidays.

© 2008, How To Do Things Inc. (www.HowToDoThings.com)
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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