Imagine, if you will, me and my little brother loaded up with the family dog in the giant early 80s Ford tooling down the road on a cold snowy day, my parents juiced up on coffee and Christmas cheer. There may have even been carol singing. We and about a hundred other yuletide families wrestled our way through the gravel roads threading in between the farms various outbuildings. Hand painted signs pointed to where to find firs, spruces, and pines. Dad discovered very soon that one lane dirt roads do not stay frozen when it's above forty degrees out. We slogged through mud holes and icy puddles until finally parking the car in a pull off. Dad was swearing to high heaven under his breath as we tumbled out, dog and all. Boo, the dog, decided to mark every tree for himself. No one could decide on a tree, there was something wrong with all of them. My brother and I were cold, muddy, and fighting. Finally, a tree was decided on. Dad went to work with the hand saw (swearing continued) and at last we had our very own overpriced Christmas tree. I and my brother were tasked with making sure it stayed tied down to the roof of the car, icy winds whistling through the cracked open windows. Now that's some magical family time.
It depends on the year and our schedules whether we put up a real tree or just decorate a small fake one. I love the scent of fir in the house and the cats enjoy a new water dish in the tree stand. We have an old cast iron beast of a tree stand nailed to a piece of plywood. Works like a charm and it's heavy enough it doesn't fall over, not that anyone has tried to climb it, thank God. The University of Illinois Extension Service has some great tips for choosing and caring for a live tree: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/trees/selection.cfm.
A real tree in all its glory.
Fergus and a friend enjoying the velvet tree skirt.