Christmas Trees

I once had a Waltons-type perspective on what getting a Christmas tree should be like. You know, the family dressed in flannel venturing off into the evergreen forest to surround a single majestic arbor which is felled with a few swift ax blows and carted away by siblings singing carols in Latin. An L.L. Bean scene. Yeah, not so much anymore. What is it about getting a darn tree that can be so stressful? Usually somebody ends up on the Naughty list, and more often than not it’s Dad. This year was no different. My 16-year-old was volunteering at a party for preschool children on Saturday and wasn’t done until 3:30 p.m. so we didn’t have much daylight.

To make matters worse, we pulled into Reindeer Ridge Christmas Tree Farm in Sebastopol – owned by Paul and Debbie Garavaglia for the past 30 years – at the tense conclusion of the Warriors-Toronto game and, of course, we couldn’t miss that. (Don’t blame me. My kids are rabid fans of Curry and Co.) So by the time we got out to look, it was getting dark, which complicated our usual routine of combing every square inch of any place worth tree shopping. Christopher wanted something tall. My 13-year-old daughter, Clara, wanted something “bushy,” Mom wanted something quick, and I wanted something on sale.

The Garavaglia family (from left) Kellie, 28, Jodi, 21, Paul and Debbie witgh the caboose of the train from their family run Reindeer Ridge Christmas Tree Farm in Sebastopol. (Photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

The Garavaglia family (from left) Kellie, 28, Jodi, 21, Paul and Debbie witgh the caboose of the train from their family run Reindeer Ridge Christmas Tree Farm in Sebastopol. (Photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

Within 15 minutes, somebody was mad at somebody and we all ended up back in the van, quietly looking out the front windshield watching cars and trucks pull away with headlights on. “OK,” I said breaking the silence. “Are we willing to give it one more try or do we want to go home and try tomorrow?” The consensus was to give it one more go. But we had no flashlight and no real vision. And the fear was we would end up stuck with another tree that would dry out before Christmas. That had happened to us a number of years before when our tree got so dry and brittle that I had to throw it out two days before Christmas. It was a fire hazard. But try telling that to two little kids who look up at you like Cindy Lu Who asking why you just took the last piece of roast beast. (We ended up replacing the tree with a Christmas chair. But the kids never forgave me for that. I don’t know why. I covered the chair with ornaments.)

Before we ventured out into the woods once more, I noticed that Reindeer Ridge had some cut trees in a large shed, and I beckoned everyone to follow me. It turned out this is where they showcased their noble firs, which were probably shipped from Oregon, but who cares? They were tall, bushy, fragrant and very close to the car. Better yet, it was a well-lighted place to tree hunt. The one we all agreed on was a hefty $78 (with a $5 off coupon I got online), but frankly it was worth it. Plus it came with a bag of apples. In the end, we were all in such a fine mood, we listened to Christmas Carol on the way home – right after the Warriors post-game show. None of it, thankfully, was in Latin.

Christopher and Clara Gullixson make it home with their prize noble fir after another un-Waltons-like Christmas tree search. (Photo by Paul Gullixson)

Christopher and Clara Gullixson make it home with their prize noble fir after another un-Waltons-like Christmas tree search. (Photo by Paul Gullixson)

Tell us your tree-hunting story. Where did you go and what did you get? Any deals? Traditions? As you can tell, I’m looking for advice for next year. I doubt L.L. Bean will be calling. – Paul Gullixson