Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Getting The Christmas Tree

My life in appalachia - Getting The Christmas Tree

Over the weekend we put up our Christmas tree. The girls insisted on going out in the woods and cutting down a tree for their room too. I tagged along to make sure they didn’t cut a finger off-and to snap pictures of them so I could show you.

For years we’ve used an artificial Christmas tree until last year. Some of you may remember mine and The Deer Hunter’s search for the perfect Christmas Tree last year (if you missed it you can go here to read it).

The tree we put up over the weekend was a 20 dollar tree off a lot here in town. What about you-do you put up a tree? Is it real?


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    Kent Lockman
    December 21, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Sorry Tipper We don’t put up a real tree these days. We used too. Used to go out with my children and cut down the tree and haul it home. The heat in our house dried it out so quickly, we decided to go to a realistic looking artificial tree after the kids left home. It looks real but it isn’t. Less worry about fire way out in the country and no mess to clean up when you take it down. lol Some years we cut red cedar boughs and put them in a five gallon stoneware churn again after the kids left home. It worked just fine.
    Kent Lockman

  • Reply
    December 4, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    We usually put up a real tree that we buy from a local Masonic lodge.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    December 3, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    We’ve used both since we were married. I’m being lazy this year and putting up a small ‘fake’ tree. But it is very pretty. When I was growing up, we always went out in the woods and cut down a real tree. And I loved the icicles we hung so carefully.

  • Reply
    Mary Berrong
    December 2, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Like so many people we use an artifical tree. We used to use a live tree, especially when the kids were growing up. My oldest daughter still puts up a live tree. My most memorable tree hunting experience was when my older sister came home to Mom’s for Christmas. She and I and four kids trekked all over the mountain behind Mom’s house looking for a suitable tree. I have some treasured pictures of that time. Unfortunately there were no trees of the right size, all had grown too tall, so we returned to Mom’s and dug up a white pine that Mom had planted in the yard a few years before. We brought it in and you should have heard Mom, “You’ve killed my tree. It will never live again.” Actually we replanted and the tree survived.

  • Reply
    December 2, 2011 at 2:41 am

    Flashback to most memorable tree gathering: My dear Dad and I, just the two of us, took out the boat and searched for the perfect tree from the water’s edge. One of the warm December days in NC that seem like a gift in their own. Daddy cut the tree with an axe. It filled a good share of the boat space. When we stood it up at home, it was not the perfect tree, but it created a perfect memory.

  • Reply
    Ferne Kellow
    December 2, 2011 at 2:26 am

    My family has always had a live tree. Growing up in western Oregon the forest wasn’t far away, and over the years we had many trips there to cut one. Then, as an adult I always went to cut trees with my brother and his family. I always told my two little nieces the story of the ugliest and most noble Christmas tree, and then they helped me find one like that for my house. A short summary of the story goes that the littlest fir in the forest was determined to grow up beautiful, so it would be chosen by the queen for the palace. But things kept happening to it. It saved a bird from a snowstorm by bending it’s limbs and they broke. It sheltered an owl in the same way and finally the lower limbs drooped. when a fawn came to rest under them. When the queen came she started to walk by the ugly, little fir, but then she noticed how truly noble it was and that it had a heart of gold. She chose it to be the Christmas tree for the palace. Now I have to get my tree from a lot, but I still look for one with a broken branch.

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    December 1, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Tipper: well i admit we have used a store bought,for many years. but the grand kids are coming from around the country. so they expect a native douglas fir. so grammy,and i will head out this weekend and get the real mccoy. the smell the beauty,and the mess.have a joyful christmas. k.o.h

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    December 1, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    We put up a real tree == usually a 9 footer fir from the farmers’ market. Lots of decorations — handmade and hand-me-down — and a popcorn and cranberry chain. We’ll put it up on the 11th this year and I always take it down on New Year’s Eve.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    For 38 years we had the biggest live tree the house would accomodate. Two years ago my husband had unexpected major surgery in early December. Since I could not manage a real tree, I bought an artificial one. Much to my surprise my husband decided it was beautiful, not messy, and so easy. We bought a ten-footer last year. We do have to put up some live swags in order to have that wonderful smell.

  • Reply
    Mary Rutherford
    December 1, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    We celebrate with a real tree – sometimes a little pine or cedar from out back, sometimes a fir from up in Ashe County. We decorate our tree with home made ornaments on Christmas Eve and leave it up until Old Christmas. I grew up with cedars but have trouble decorating them these days unless I wear long sleeves and gloves because they are so prickly. My Grandma always had a red cedar filled with popcorn chains. To decorate, she hung long white envelopes with each grandchild’s name on them. They each contained a dollar bill which I am sure was a big sacrifice for her to make. I always thought her tree was beautiful.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    People always tell me how clever I am at decorating trees – and would I like to do one for them. My record was eight trees in about five days one year! I hope I’ve only got one to do this year, time alone will tell.

  • Reply
    Rick Kratzke
    December 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    We have used both artificial and real but we prefer the real. Like the smell of a real tree in the house.
    This weekend me and the boys are on a mission to get a tree and have it cut and standing in the living room with the lights on so my wife can decorate it after she get’s out of work.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    We used to drive out to a Christmas tree farm and cut our own tree every year after Thanksgiving when we lived in NJ. And not just any Christmas tree farm would do — it had to have ambiance…so I can definitely relate to your search for the perfect Christmas tree! Since we moved here to VA, we still get our tree every year after Thanksgiving, but now buy it already cut from our church… so long as they are fresh and straight, that is the important thing. Ours went up in five minutes this year — unheard of after 28 years! — perfectly straight and with no swearing! Will be putting on the lights today. I love to decorate it, and my favorite ornaments are the ones my mother has made over the years — they go on first after the lights and a ribbon garland. Enjoy decorating yours with your daughters — I bet they still enjoy helping with that! Thanks for liking the dishes I picked out — always so pleased to buy “Made in America” and am trying to do that more this Christmas!

  • Reply
    December 1, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    I’m glad your girls enjoy going
    out and getting their Special
    Christmas Tree. When my two girls
    were younger, we enjoyed so much
    that Special time of choosing just
    which one was right. And we always
    had a rooted tree to plant after
    the Christmas Season. One Frasier
    Fur still lives and its over 40
    feet tall now. Thanks for those
    memories of how it use to be…

  • Reply
    December 1, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    We were so inspired by your Old Timey tree from last year that we are putting up a real tree this year. This weekend we are going to a tree lot in town and picking it out. We donated out artificial tree we always used to a senior center for their lobby. Can’t wait to see pictures of your tree and also Chitter and Chatter’s!

  • Reply
    December 1, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    We now use a “Fake”, the sinners we are. However we do try to bring in branches of Cedar for the smell.
    I usually put 5 sinning trees up. From red metallic, white plastic to a 7 foot spinning tree.
    Once I get my quilt out of the frame in the lving room, I hope to put my dizzy tree up.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2011 at 11:50 am

    I love real Christmas trees, but we use an artificial one because we have cats. They’ve never tried to climb the artificial one (they only swipe the ornaments), but I’m convinced they would try to climb a real one! 🙂

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    December 1, 2011 at 11:16 am

    I love a live tree…but circumstances have led to the use of artifical trees thru the years…When we can we always use a live tree…actually it is much easier than putting that hateful artifical tree together and adjusting every limb and needle branch…Mother Nature does all the adjusting without any help from us, and all we have to do is put it in the holder…LOL
    She holds the lights with strength and hides the cords in her very plush arms…That old artifical tree sticks straight at you and says I dare you to twist a cord on my metal arm…SHOCKING..LOL
    I could go on…but when we are well and all is well we like a live tree…
    Thanks Tipper, for a wonderful post…Please show us pictures of the girls tree…

  • Reply
    December 1, 2011 at 10:36 am

    We have always done an artificial tree, but I’ve been reading “Foxfire Christmas”… so I have been inspired to find a cedar tree in the woods, which we plan to do this weekend. We’ve already made a paper chain to go on it, and we have plans to string popcorn for it too. I hope this will make lasting memories for my 3 little girls 🙂

  • Reply
    December 1, 2011 at 10:29 am

    I always used to get a 5′ frasier fir. The smell was divine and the branches grow just perfectly for decorating.
    Nowadays I only have room for a 2′ artificial tree. I hate it, but it’s better than nothing – I guess!
    I use colored lights, red and gold bead garland, with different sized red and gold balls. If I put enough stuff on it it looks pretty!
    I enjoyed your stories and photos of picking your trees theese past two years, you’re making beautiful memories for your girls!

  • Reply
    December 1, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Since we’ve been married, we actually have not had a tree. We made countless excuses (no space to store an artificial, no way to travel back with a live tree, no energy to trim/decorate). We’ll probably do the tree thing when we have kids.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Ours went up after Thanksgiving. You can read about them at
    Like many other commenters I would prefer a real tree, but seem to find the convenience of the fakes too easy.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    December 1, 2011 at 9:56 am

    We used to always put up a live tree but since our children have moved out we use an artifical as it gives my Beloved Bride longer to get the decorations “Just Right” which takes some time. If I may offer some advice to those who use a live tree always check for Praying Mantis’ egg pods. We had one hatch out when it warmed indoors. I love the Praying Mantis but discovered that my Mom didn’t share my affection when they are crawling all over the living room.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Yes indeed a tree will be present in our little log cabin –when our kids we small we always went out to the woods to cut one down-usually a cedar tree–then about 15 years ago we needed to go to a smaller tree still cedar and hung it upside down and decorated very sparsely as would have been done in the 1800;s. I also have an antique feather tree ,which each year gets decorated differently—but nothing beats the smell a live tree does bring.

  • Reply
    Kimberly Burnette
    December 1, 2011 at 9:47 am

    I have had real Christmas trees for years because I love the wonderful smell. However I do feel a bit guilty each year because I know that the tree had to die for me to enjoy it in my living room. I know that sounds silly, but I always feel horrible when I take it down after Old Christmas. It looks so sad and lonely as I am taking the ornaments & lights off. (Plus, I really dislike trying to take the lights off of the tree!)
    So, this year, I found a nice looking PRE-LIT tree for sale on Black Friday. (My ONLY Black Friday purchase!) I haven’t put it up yet, but will do so in the next couple of days.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2011 at 9:40 am

    No tree or decorating is done at my house anymore. I bake a bunch of goodies and go to the kids

  • Reply
    Wayne Newton
    December 1, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Tipper, you’ve done it again; in my short story, “Log Cabin Christmas”, I told of the Longleaf Pine top we had for most of my growing up years.
    Every time I recall that long ago time, nostalgia sweeps over me.
    Unable, now, to help Cathy dress our little house for this glorious occasion/remembrance, my memories have to suffice.
    Thankfully, though, she uses pine, cedar, and holly as the final jewels all round the house, especially on the mantel and the windows. I enjoy their aromas.
    Close, but only in my ruminations can I come close to those Christmases from my boyhood.
    Thankful for good memories.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Oh the memories! We would bundle up and go out to pick out a tree with our Dad. When we got it in the house, it never looked as perfect as out in the field or on a mountain side.
    As I grew older and had these constant allergies/colds around Christmas, I realized I was allergic to the trees. This is more common than I realized. I put up an artificial,and most children in family have not gotten used to real trees. I love natural type ornaments.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2011 at 9:26 am

    We use one of mom’s many potted trees!!!

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    December 1, 2011 at 9:16 am

    “Used to be” the family would go out, prowl around our woods, select a live tree. Hubby would cut it down and we brought it home. Then decorate it on Dec. 22 (my birthday)filling it with old family and the kids hand made ornaments
    Used to be, I say, these days, it is a small artificial one…
    BTW I really enjoyed your girls rendition of Go tell it on the Mountain. I love that carol!

  • Reply
    Pam Moore
    December 1, 2011 at 8:49 am

    While my daughter is young we will continue to have a real tree, but as we age I can see us getting a prelit artificial.
    Used to have a white pine delivered from a tree farm in North Caroline, but it is out of our budget this year. We are going to try a tree from a tree lot, even though they seem to dry out much sooner.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 1, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Christmas trees are my favorite part of Christmas. When we had a bigger house we had trees in several rooms. Now that we live between a condo and a cabin, we only have 1. We always put up the tree the Sunday after Thanksgiving. We always had live trees until we moved into the condo, now we have a tall skinny artificial one. I miss te smell!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 1, 2011 at 8:32 am

    No tree here, I plan to come to Brasstown and enjoy yours!

  • Reply
    December 1, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Looks like the girls found a good tree. I put up a tree every year, but now I use an artifical tree that is pre-lit. I would rather have the real tree, but this one is just so much easier. I love birds and my tree is decorated with them. I have been collecting the ornaments for years. I have mainly red birds, but even have an owl or two. Everything on my tree is something representative of nature. I have white crocheted snowflakes, crystal ice cycles, pine cones, birds, bird nests, and bird houses. I have a fawn, some squirrels, and some rabbits that sit under the tree with a Nativity arrangement. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Santa Claus, but displaying the gifts of nature that the Lord has given us helps me to remember that we are celebrating the greatest gift of all the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2011 at 8:27 am

    fake trees for the last 27 years, before that live trees. i prefer live but am past that now. i like the smell they bring in. in my OLD age i now have 2 little 2 foot tall trees

  • Reply
    Joe Mode
    December 1, 2011 at 7:52 am

    Since the boys have been born we have always gone out and cut our own tree. Our most special place, Skunk Ridge Tree Farm, closed and we had to find a new place and a new tradition last year. We called Skunk Ridge the Christmas Tree Patch. They had an old barn with a big, potbelly stove, would serve hot chocolate, and sell greenery and wreaths. Sometimes they would have local musicians playing Christmas tunes. We would hop on a hay-layden trailer pulled by a tractor with the owners yellow lab, Jack, and head back to the trees to hunt for the best one ever. We often took a football to pass around. Fortunately, we still see the owners whenever we decide to go to the Museum of Applachia on Sundays to eat lunch. Always great memories.

  • Reply
    Gary Powell
    December 1, 2011 at 7:39 am

    We used to cut a cedar. I loved to smell them. We use an artificial tree now and have for the last several years. We get to leave it up longer without worrying about it drying out. My wife and I decorated a small pine tree on a hill behind our house. It is growing pretty fast, don’t know how long we can decorate it before we have to find a smaller one.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    December 1, 2011 at 7:34 am

    We haven’t put one up for a few years because we generally are not at home for Christmas. Harriette is going to pick out our tree tomorrow, though. I admit to being a Scrooge when it comes to setting up and decorating the tree, but I really enjoy it until New Year’s Day, when I will have to take it down. I just don’t like the process of setting it up and taking it down.
    Maybe the families who have a tradition of having a family tree trimming on Christmas Eve know what they are doing. I might enjoy the setup more.

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    December 1, 2011 at 7:30 am

    Yes– and it has to be real. The pine-y smell is great and the fake ones never look very real.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2011 at 7:18 am

    I just love the smell of a real tree, but over the years we relented and put up an artificial tree. I have to admit that I like not worrying about watering it and trying to keep it fresh. However, there is nothing like a real tree. Enjoy!

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