By Juliana Counts

Finding the perfect tree has become a lost art… or so I thought. Yes, many folks opt for artificial pre-lit trees. They offer no mess, less frustration, and you needn’t worry about watering them. My family always had an artificial tree because my mother was allergic to pine. Sadly, I grew up never experiencing the smell of fresh pine on Christmas morning – such a tragedy.

There are a lot of purists who say real trees are the best, and I couldn’t agree more. Yet, many of these same purists will gladly drive to the nearest Warehouse chain to purchase an often over-priced scrawny prickly stick that will drop its needles with every step you take. I may be channeling my inner Clark Griswold here, but I believe the best Christmas trees are the ones you select and cut (or dig up) yourself.

It can be tough finding the perfect place to follow the age-old tradition of chopping down your own tree, but the Internet has saved our collective bacon (and yes, I realize the irony of using modern technology to find a pick-your-own tree farm for a good ole’ fashion family Christmas). The website PickYourOwnChristmasTree.org may be a visually painful website – typed out in Comic sans – but it does lead you to lists upon lists of tree farms from all over the country. It also contains lots of vital information about these farms, such as what services and products they offer, and links to farm websites.

Some tree farms offer an entire day’s worth of fun, if you happen to be looking for some family time. Trim Pines Farm in Holly offers holiday hayrides, a roasting fire for s’mores, portable sawmill demonstrations, and even a chance to meet Santa and 2 of his reindeer! Huff’s Tree Farm (HuffTreeFarm.com) in Highland is open 7 days a week, with fresh hot chocolate, coffee, and cookies, as well as free wagon rides during the weekends.

Middle Road Tree Farm, also in Highland, is meant for those who simply want the perfect tree. This farm is great if you’re looking for a deal on a tall tree, as they charge a flat $48 on all “U-Cut Trees”. Sustainable, organically grown Christmas trees are available at Addison-Oaks Christmas Tree Farm in Oakland (AddisonOaksTrees.com). Their trees are grown the way nature intended, without pesticides or chemical colorants.

We are a state that loves trees, pines in particular (our state tree, after all, is the Eastern White Pine). Support your local farmers, and treat yourself to the time-honored tradition of cutting down your own tree. Your days may even seem a bit more merry and bright for it.