I was eight years old when I first experienced cutting my own Christmas tree. One Sunday morning in early December, after church, instead of the usual route home, my father got on the highway…towards Kentucky. Now, my brother and I had been through this before, and this usually meant we were going one of two places: a furniture store or the Cincinnati Home and Garden Show, and neither ideas were appealing to us. But the Home and Garden Show is a February event, and a furniture store was not in the cards this particular day. Instead, we were headed to to Corsi Tree Farm for the very first of many times to come.
We had no idea that was where we were headed, in our parent’s typical fashion they just said that “it was a surprise.” So we shut up. It was only about an hour’s drive but an hour’s drive to an eight and a six year old boy is like an eternity. And you know what happens when two boys get bored and restless: they fight. And we did, although I can’t for the life of me remember what it was about; perhaps to actually get our Dad to turn the car around so we could go home. Needless to say, it wasn’t a pleasant ride. The car radio played the Cincinnati Bengals’ latest lost as well, which didn’t make things any better for me, so when we finally arrived at Corsi, I was in quite the bad mood. All that was about to change.
I looked out across the parking lot and saw rows upon rows of evergreen trees along a few acres of rolling hills. Christmas music played from speakers at the main building, and several weary kids such as my brother and I were running around getting rid of the stiffness of “car legs.” “We’re going to cut our own real Christmas tree this year.” said my father. I had seen live trees for sale in supermarket and church parking lots, but never an actual tree farm before. Excited and our joy renewed, we all changed out of our Sunday shoes and into hiking boots that my father had stowed in the trunk. Then we proceeded to wait in a short line for a small hand saw that would cut our tree with. My brother and I ran out into the fields as soon as we could, rolling down the hills and getting our church clothes all muddy. Our parents didn’t seem to care. As my mother would always say: “that’s what Stain Stick is for.” My father and mother both said that we had to pick not just a good tree, but the perfect tree; it had to be nice and green and also big but also fit in the living room just right. I thought of the old film The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree, and Papa bear’s famous line: “we’ll find the right tree if it takes us a week!” At that point, spending a week here wouldn’t have bothered me; I was having too much fun.
After about twenty minutes or so, we stopped at what we all agreed would be our tree for the year; our father taught us how to look for a healthy tree by looking for an excess of brown needles on the tree and to ensure those needles don’t fall off with a slight brush as well as how to look for infections or fungus on the bark. With our tree picked, my father, mother, brother and I all took turns working the saw to cut our tree before carrying it back to the main building. There, the tree was sent through a packing machine that wrapped it up and made it easier to transport, which was almost as fun to watch as the it was to cut down the tree in the first place. After our tree was wrapped and a few cups of hot apple cider were drank, we lashed the tree to the roof of our car and headed home, this time, however, I slept the whole way, all worn out from running around the place. After a few days of soaking the base of the wrapped tree in water, we decorated it together as a family to the sound of John Denver’s Christmas album, which to this day will always remind me of fun memories of growing up around the holidays.
Every year since then until my brother and I both got to be in high school, we went back to Corsi Tree Farm every year to get our tree, which we all intently looked forward to from Thanksgiving on. I really do miss cutting my own tree, and hope to do so again soon. Regardless, when I have a family of my own one day, my children will surely have fond memories of cutting their own Christmas tree every year too.