The Hunt for the Perfect Evergreen

Lynsey Kitching

What a beautiful tree! We debate if this one is the one. At this point we were wandering around in the forest by the windmill project.
There’s something about the smell of fresh pine or spruce needles that in me, truly sparks the excitement of the holiday season. I know real trees are messy, I know it can be a hassle getting them chosen and home, but the fun in finding the perfect tree and having its needles fill my house with the aroma of nature trumps my need for the quick and easy tree decking at this time of year… so far anyways.
I grew up in a busy city and our family tradition was to fight through the slow-moving snowy traffic to finally arrive at the local nursery, where we picked from a large selection of pre-cut Christmas trees that dangled from the ceiling, like carcasses in a meat locker. 
Being out of the city and into the wild, this year sparked a new tradition — the hunt and chopping of our Christmas tree. This year, we had to fight through the snow on foot, well on snowshoe. Having only ever planted trees, not cut them down, this new adventure was a very exciting one.
When I was young we’d sort through all of the bundled trees with hoards of other shoppers and try to claim the perfect tree before anyone else spotted it. My parents always seemed a little stressed at this point, having three young girls all grinning and standing by their favourite tree. What a tough call to make as it would inevitably cause two thirds of their children to pout that their tree wasn’t picked.
We would always get the tree home and set it up to let the ‘boughs fall’ as my mom would say. Then a few days later, when the tree was ready we would light the fireplace, pop in the VHS of The Sound of Music and get to work decorating with lights, ornaments, strings of cranberries and popcorn and of course the last finishing touch, the angel at the top.
I loved plugging in the lights and watching them dance around the balls of colours, the doves, the nut crackers, the reindeers and the little home-made gems. There is something so magical about Christmas trees.

After having trudged through the snow for hours, we found the one. Then we had to saw it down.
Even if my tree hadn’t been the one that was picked, by the time we finished decorating it, I always thought that ours was the prettiest tree on the street.
New to this block, and all grown up, this will be my first Christmas in my very own home. So we packed up the dogs and a group of us headed out into the wild to start our new family tradition. Finding an area where we think may hold the treasures we hunt; we parked, strapped on the snowshoes and headed into the forest.
The snow was so deep, fluffy and exhausting. Even Mavis the dog seemed to be struggling to cut a path through the dense white flakes. She looked like a dolphin diving through the waves, snow sticking to her fur causing her face to camouflage in the white sheet that covered the forest.
After about two hours of wandering, shaking trees to remove the snow to reveal their boughs, having our hopes crushed when we would fight through the snow to get to a tree and find out it was too thin, we finally found the one.
We looked at it from all angles, smelled it, debated about the height and then when all the questions were answered we brought out the saw and ‘timbre!’ down it went, but in a loving way of course.
During the ride home I kept checking on it in the back of the truck to make sure we didn’t lose it. Of course, we didn’t.
We finally got the tree home and collapsed on the sofa, tired, yet satisfied. Our mission was complete.
This is a tradition I hope to hold onto for as long as I can, as for me having a real Christmas tree keeps the holiday real in my mind.
For anyone else wishing to go out and find their tree, there is one minor technicality to take care of first. Though it is free to go out and cut down a Christmas tree, there is still a permit needed. 
I was the first to get one.
According to the District, citizens are supposed to get a free permit before heading out to get a tree. People are not supposed to cut down trees in the following areas: forest plantations, private lands, research areas, any other areas reserved for a special use, parks, adjacent to rivers, streams, lakes or swamps, and juvenile-spaced areas.
Happy holidays and remember to have fun while decking the halls!