Sunday, December 2, 2007

It’s beginning to SMELL a lot like Christmas
Or how to choose, keep, and enjoy a fresh cut Christmas Tree, wreath, and garland.

Fresh baked brownies. Paperwhites in bloom. Pinion burning in you chiminea.

When these images are conjured in your head, there is most certainly a smell that goes with them. Our sense of smell is the strongest memory triggering sense we have. Well imagine the memories you can make with a fresh cut Christmas Tree in your home. I’m sure some of you already have that aroma rushing through your memory now.

I was brought up in a home with an artificial tree. Every year, after Thanksgiving, we would climb in the attic, over the bags of summer clothes, empty boxes from whatever appliance or electronic purchase was made that year (Why do dad’s always feel the need to save those boxes?) and find the boxes marked TREE. They were dropped down in the hallway and then we sorted limbs, taped up broken branches, and wrestled bent wires to form something that resembled a tree. That was always my Christmas memory.

Then, eight years ago I met my wife. Not only was she “The One”, she was the daughter of a Christmas Tree farmer. I’ll never forget my first year helping at the tree farm. I finally came home from work smelling good! It’s a great, light pine scent. Not to be confused with the harsh Pinesol aroma. It smells fresh, clean, nostalgic. It smells like Christmas. I’ve had a fresh tree ever since and I won’t go back to fake.

You can get that same olfactory sensation for your Christmas with a fresh cut tree, and here’s everything you need to know to choose, keep, and enjoy one this Christmas. We’ll also look at fresh green wreaths and fresh garland.

The most important aspect in choosing a cut tree is how the tree has been cared for. At The Great Outdoors, we keep our trees in water at all times. Every tree is sprayed down at least once a day, more often if it is warm or sunny. They are kept in the shade and given fresh cuts any time they are moved so that they can take up water. It’s a lot of work, but it is the only way to keep a tree fresh, aromatic, and holding it’s needles through December. You may notice, at the box stores and some other places, trees sitting in a pile, baking in the sun without a drop of water in sight. I’ll let you decide which trees are going to look better, longer.

Once you choose your tree, we will take it for a ride on ‘Lil Shakee, the tree shaker. This helps get any loose needles off before you take your tree into your house. Next, your tree is given another fresh cut so that it can take up water once you get it home. A trip through the netter helps bundle your tree up so it is easier to get home and into your house. And finally we load your tree in or on your vehicle. You may want to bring an old blanket if it is going on your roof. We also offer delivery service AND a delivery and setup of the tree service.

Once your tree is home, it’s pretty easy to keep it fresh. First, be sure it is always in water. A good tree stand should hold at least 1 gallon of water. The Cinco brand stands we sell are my favorite, as they hold lots of water, don’t leak, and are easy to use. The stand should be checked every other day for water level and kept as full as possible. There are hundreds of tales of what to add to the water you put your tree in, but the truth is plain old tap water is all you need. If you don’t plan on putting the tree in it’s stand right away, be sure to at least put it in a bucket of water and keep it in a cool, shady place.

A few other pointers for your tree: Be sure to avoid hot, dry areas in the house. This can often be controlled by shutting off a heat vent or closing curtains on a sunny window. Excessive heat or sun will dry the tree much faster and could lead to a fire hazard or at least tons of needles on you floor. Don’t over do it with lights, especially the “old fashioned” C7 or C9 lights, as the produce lots of heat. The new LED lights on the market are more expensive, but they produce virtually no heat and use less power. Don’t leave the lights on overnight, during the day, or if you’re out of town, as this can also lead to drying.

Wreaths and garland follow very similar guidelines as far as the hot and dry location rules. One good recommendation for a wreath is to soak it overnight in water before hanging it. It is also a good idea to spray it at least every other day to keep it fresh. Again, avoid direct sunlight and/or heat vents.

Follow these steps and your tree (and wreath and garland) will reward you throughout the holiday season with that wonderful piney, fresh aroma of Christmas.