By: Crissie Miller Kirby
Wow! Thanksgiving is almost here and with that comes the knowledge that November is almost over and Christmas will be here in about a month. Part of what makes this season so special for so many are the traditions that we have developed with family and friends. In honor of those traditions, I thought I would use this posting as an opportunity to share with you one of my family’s most treasured of traditions.
For some of you, you may have a tradition of pulling your Christmas tree from the attic or the garage. Others of you may make a run to your local grocery store or roadside lot to choose an already cut tree. Still others prefer the trip to a rural community to one of South Carolina’s choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms. For my little family, the latter is the true beginning of our Christmas season, for every Thanksgiving afternoon, we venture down a dirt road in Monetta, South Carolina to Tom Sawyer’s Christmas Trees where we choose our tree from the many different varieties they offer. And, before you ask ~ yes, Tom Sawyer is both a real, live person and that is his real name!
When you arrive at the tree farm, you are generally greeted by Tom’s brother, George, who can direct you to the different fields that hold the different varieties. In the fields, you will most certainly come across Tom and, often, his son, Ben. Some weekends you may find my brother, Ritchie, or another “family member,” Alan, assisting customers as they choose and cut that perfect tree. A trip to the Wreath House to survey the wreaths, garlands, and bows will find you warmly greeted by Tom’s wife, Debbie. Often, Debbie is assisted by her sister-in-law, Evelyn, or her daughter-in-law, Becky. Another member of the “family” is Brenda, who also lends a friendly face to the Wreath House. And some weekends, you may even find me.
You see, our family tradition of getting our tree from the Sawyer’s does not end when the tree is netted and safely stowed in or on top of my mini-van; on the contrary, it begins on Thanksgiving afternoon each year. I am so fortunate to have known the Sawyer family for as long as I can remember and they have graciously allowed me to become a part of the “tree farm family” each holiday season. Being a part of this wonderful group of people really helps to shape, mold, and personify the adage about giving being better than receiving. I am unable to truly put in to words how wonderful it is to see the smiles on the customers’ faces as they choose the perfect tree or the perfect wreath or even the smiles generated from something as simple as choosing the perfect ribbon for their wreath.
These customers truly give me the greatest gift each season. Their happiness and excitement is infectious and now I can barely imagine a Christmas season without being with the Sawyers and the rest of our tree farm family. It is more than a seasonal job; it is a family tradition. So much so that my almost 6-year-old son states, emphatically, that he is ready to put on his “tree farm” jacket and go to work on the farm this holiday season! And for the Sawyers, this is far more than a seasonal venture, the planting, pruning, care, and maintenance of the tree farm is a multi-year, year-round process. It is truly a labor of love and a tradition for them. They welcome each family with open arms and look forward to seeing those same, often growing, families return to their fields each and every season.
If you and your family are in search of a new tradition, I suggest that you make the trek to Monetta and see what Tom Sawyer’s Christmas Trees has to offer: choose and cut trees, wreaths, bows, wagon rides, and some of the most peaceful countryside you have ever seen. For more information about the environmental benefits of purchasing a live tree and general information on all of South Carolina’s tree farms, please take a few minutes to visit the SC Christmas Tree Association website at www.scchristmastrees.org.
Best wishes to all of my fellow bloggers, their families, and our readers as we venture into the 2011 holiday season: May you all have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving and Christmas season. I look forward to seeing you at the farm!