Cutting your own Christmas tree is a great tradition

There are a number of ways to get a Christmas tree. You can buy one, cut one, or cheat and get an artificial tree. But there’s only one way that gives you a good excuse to go out to the woods for the day.

My family hasn’t yet settled on a definite tradition for the Christmas tree yet.

We’ve bought them at tree lots, where all the trees are bushy and perfectly Christmas tree-shaped, but they tend to get pretty dry by Christmas Day. I’m terrified of fires, and being an outdoorsman, I know what great kindling dry pine needles are, so I get a little jumpy with a dry tree in the house.

We’ve done the potted pine tree, too. That’s a great way to enjoy a Christmas tree, but then plant it outside and have it forever, as long as you don’t move. The problem with this is that to keep the tree healthy, you can’t keep it inside very long. I like having a tree for most of December, so we haven’t gone the potted tree route for several years.

And then there’s cutting down your own tree out in the forest. This is certainly the cheapest way to do it, since tree permits are only $10. And it’s a great excuse to get outside, up in the mountains.

You’ll never find a perfect Christmas tree out in the woods. They’re always a lot more scruffy than their farm-raised cousins, but at least they’re fresh. A self-cut tree tends to stay moist for the entire month, as long as you make sure to pick a healthy one and keep it watered.

That right there is a great reason to cut your own tree. But for me, the best reason is the experience itself. You can hike back as far as you want into the woods before you cut one down – just remember that you’ll have to carry it all the way out, too. But it’s a wonderful family experience, and you’re rewarded with a house filled with the aroma of the woods for weeks.