Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Christmas Tree Experience

Posted December 1, 2010 8:28 a.m. EST
Updated December 1, 2010 11:46 a.m. EST

Have you bought your Christmas tree yet? If so, where did you go? Is it always the same vendor for you? What type of tree do you like? Does it have to be a Fraser Fir or is a white pine your favorite?

Our family has a tradition of buying a Christmas tree each year in the mountains at a choose and cut lot near our cabin in Alleghany County. This year we bought at 8 foot Fraser Fir at Bobby Maines lot off Highway 21 near Roaring Gap. The price was quite pleasing - $40. There is a plentiful supply of trees this year. North Carolina ranks second nationwide in the number of trees harvested. This year's harvest could top 5 million.

We were in and out of the tree lot in 15 minutes. We have a family rule. Everyone has to agree on a tree before we make the purchase. We quickly found a beautiful Fraser Fir - full and fresh and flourishing on an impressive hillside. We hoisted our PVC pole, which is used to measure the height of the tree, and Bobby Maines came by with his chainsaw. He also trimmed the bottom of the tree so it will be easy to place it in our stand. We always ask a member of the tree crew to secure the tree to the top of our car with string and then reinforce it with bungee cords. I would hate to launch a tree missile coming down Highway 421 at 65 miles an hour.

When we arrived back in Raleigh I and put the tree in a big bucket of water. I will probably not be able to put the tree up in the house until Sunday evening. I love the choose and cut option because these trees are so fresh and last through New Year's without shedding too many needles.

Locally, there are many great places to find a tree. Since 1989 former NC State basketball star Tommy Burleson has been bringing batches of great trees down from the mountains. Tommy has a lot on Kildare Farm Road in Cary near Western Wake Med. You never know who might show up. One year I bought a tree from Tommy's Wolfpack teammate David Thompson. That was a thrill!