Gathering Around the Real Christmas Tree

This post is sponsored by North Carolina Fraser Firs.

One of my core memories as a child is driving to the community tree lot and picking out the perfect tree. My dad would hold each one up as my mom and I analyzed it for the right height and width. We, no doubt, would choose an overly plump tree that filled out the corner of our living room with more Christmas than anticipated.

As the tree out into the stand, our house was automatically filled with the scent of the holidays. My mom would unpack the bins of Christmas ornaments, teaching me to put the vintage, delicate balls on the strongest branches.

One of my chores during the holiday was to water the tree every day. We always kept our tree up through mid-January, enjoying the tree until its needles began to fall.

Real Christmas trees are important to our traditions for so many reasons. Other than the memorable scent and tree lot memories, real trees are a zero waste tradition. The trees are completely renewable and recyclable.

Now as I create holiday traditions with my own family, the Christmas tree is the center of our holidays. We visit the tree lot run by the local Boy Scout troop and still usually get a too tall or too fat tree – but that’s half the charm of it all! Just like my childhood memories, they kids drink hot chocolate out of paper cups and suck on mini candy canes as the tree is prepared and tied to the roof of our van.

Our favorite tree has become the North Carolina Fraser Fir, which is native to the Southern Appalachian mountains. We discovered this variety with soft needles and strong branches years ago and haven’t strayed from the Fraser Fir. We love that it’s grown in the U.S. and our tree is supporting local farmers.

We hang the ornaments together and discuss the history of each one. Our kids each get a Hallmark series ornament, adding to the collection each year. My daughter carefully arranges the knit tree skirt and dutifully waters the tree each evening before bed.

As Christmas gets closer, the presents under the tree pile up. It’s the tree where we take pictures before the kids’ Christmas programs and our fancy selfies before going to the Nutcracker. On Christmas, the kids open their jammies and proudly pose with this year’s PJ print in front of the tree.

The next morning, the kids arrange their mini armchairs in a circle in front of the tree and begin passing out presents. Long after Christmas has passed and we are back to the school routine, we take the ornaments back down and drop our tree off at our city’s recycling center.

I consider it a privilege to help shape my kids’ holiday memories and our real Christmas tree is a central part of that. As I watch them grow, it’s getting easier to imagine a future tree, full of little grandchildren opening presents and learning the history of each ornament. I can’t wait!

Sarah McGinnity
Sarah grew up in Manhattan, Kansas (Go Cats!), she moved to Minnesota where she met her husband, Shea. Realizing how much she hated snow in May, she convinced him to move to Kansas City in 2010. Together they have lived in Midtown, Waldo, the Plaza, and now Overland Park. Sarah is mom to 10-year-old, Henry, 7-year-old Clark and 5-year-old Lucy. She has her master’s in urban administration and is passionate about making Kansas City a more equitable and supportive community. In between the crazy, she likes to drink coffee, run, hike, travel as much as possible, and experience all things Kansas City!