Its that time of year in West MI: the turkey and stuffing are gone, the weather is signaling winter! and our kids are ready for the annual Christmas tree hunt. Fortunately for us, the Grand Rapids area has lots of cut-your-own Christmas tree farms, some of which even offer marshmallow roasting.
Our kids look forward to our winter excursion every year, where we debate the height and width of each spruce and fir, analyze the spaces between branches, and ultimately choose a tree to grace our home for the next four weeks.
I'm not saying it's easy. Anytime you have five opinions, freezing temperatures, and a saw in your hand, things can get crazy. But the memories, and the tradition, are lovely. I love that amidst the hustle and bustle, we all value spending this afternoon together.
Granted, it's cold out there.
So we bundle up good, wear warm boots, and hope for a quick find. In the past 13 winters we've lived in Grand Rapids, we've visited several cut-your-own Christmas Tree farms. One of our favorites is way up in Cedar Springs, a little place called Wood View Acres, although I have to admit I never knew it had a name until I looked it up online. In the past, they've had these beautiful mules pull the wagon, and they didn't mind one bit when our Labrador came along for the ride.
Also in Cedar Springs, we've found a beautiful tree at Red Flannel Christmas Tree Farm, which is just on the other side of Northland Drive. There, we hopped on the tractor-drawn wagon and headed out to the far end of the farm to see what we could find.
If you want to head out this year and give it a try, the Michigan Christmas Tree Association has a website that allows you to enter your zip code to find local Choose and Cut farms. (It also has a retail link, but its not very comprehensive.)
Once we cut our tree, we head home to get it in the stand and decorate it together. I put out cookies and snacks and try not to notice the ornaments all bunched up on two or three branches.
In the end, it's always beautiful.
Whichever farm you visit this year, here's a tip from my family to yours:
Pack a thermos of hot cocoa and some mugs before you go. After you've scoured the farm for the tree that's perfect for your family, you can all celebrate by warming up your insides before you home!
If you have a favorite tree farm or tip for other families, please share it in the comments.