Courtesy of Lauren Cox

7 Things To Know Before You & Your Family Try Chopping Down Your Own Christmas Tree

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One of my favorite things about the holiday season is that there is something in the cold air that makes the world believe that anything is possible. Steps become lighter, smiles become brighter, and those lengthy to-do lists aren’t as daunting as they would have been a few weeks earlier. I’m not really sure what causes this reaction, but I’m assuming it’s something chemical in our brains. As if somehow seeing string lights draped over a garage door triggers special holiday hormones to come trickling out until we’re Fa La La La La’ing around Target’s Wondershop for three whole hours. I believe this same hormone is to blame for people thinking that they actually want to chop down a Christmas tree. Spoiler alert: yes, I am one of those people.

But first, a brief history of how I came to this decision: First and foremost you should know that I have not had a Christmas tree in seven years. I would like to tell you that as a 34 year old woman my decision to get a real, live tree this year was not totally emotionally charged, but I would be lying. The first thing I said when I moved into my new apartment in August 2018 was that I couldn’t wait to get a Christmas tree, because after years of living in the tiniest shell of an apartment with no room to spare for one, I knew my time to be reacquainted with the Christmas spirit was upon us. When Chevrolet presented me and my family with the opportunity to take a 2019 Silverado for the weekend and visit a real, live tree farm (I grew up in New York City where Christmas trees came from overcrowded sidewalks) and “chop down” our own tree, I just couldn’t resist. But also I wondered, do people really do this? Spoiler alert #2: yes, they do.

As exciting as this opportunity was, there are quite a few things I learned — things I would like to share with those who are planning a family trip to chop down a Christmas tree before Santa arrives.

Courtesy of Lauren Cox

You’re Going To Get Dirty — Even If You Aren’t Chopping Trees

I, like the millennial I am, dressed more for the potential Instagram photos that could come from this experience rather than for the experience itself. I paired a fitted burgundy sweater with skinny jeans and black suede boots… to cut down a tree. Looking back on it I realize how silly that decision was, but I did it for the Insta. And you know what? It was pretty worth it (as you can see). I wasn’t too thrilled about the mud that covered my still slightly new suede boots, or the splattered mud I found all over my pants and winter coat, but I needed an excuse to do laundry anyway.

If You’re Actually Planning To Chop Down A Tree, You Should Bring Gloves

No, I don’t mean cozy knit gloves that keep your fingers toasty. I mean industrial strength utility gloves — the kind construction workers use to keep their hands safe. This is important for a number of reasons, but safety is the biggest priority. If you’re going to be carrying and/or using a hand saw, you need gloves that are thick and durable to keep your fingers from any potential injuries. On top of that, you’ll feel a lot better touching the fresh, live tree with gloves on because it means you won’t get any sap (or other things) on you.

Check The Tree For Bugs Before You Start Chopping

A few minutes after my mom and I started looking at trees, we found a beautiful Douglas Fir in the back row closest to the brush. We thought we wanted it, but then we looked closer and saw multiple (and by multiple I mean dozens) of tiny white cocoons hanging from the branches. They could easily be dismissed as dry sap, except when you looked closer you could tell that they were all nearly identical. I should have taken a picture, but I was too busy running far, far away from the cocoon-riddled tree that almost infested my home with who knows what.

Courtesy of Lauren Cox

Just Because You Can Chop Down A Tree Doesn’t Mean You Have To

I didn’t know this until I arrived at Dixiedale Farm in Chatham Township, New Jersey, but in the likely event you realize that chopping down your own Christmas tree isn’t what you thought it might be, there are plenty of people around to help you. I was totally ready to do what I needed to do and show everyone who is a tree-chopping boss, but once I had on my gloves, my saw, and found the tree of my dreams… I realized there was no way I was going to be able to do the deed. Even with my mom’s help, I was relatively sure I would either destroy the stump or seriously injure myself or someone else in the process. So, a handsome young farm worker did it for me — and there was also plenty of help to tie the tree down in the back of the Silverado (which, by the way, has a covered cab so my gorgeous tree was well protected on the 40-minute or so ride home).

Watch Out For The Family Photo Shoots

While browsing around the farm for our perfect tree, I kept finding myself accidentally stepping into other family’s photo shoots. And I’m not talking like, iPhone photo shoots, I mean families brought actual photographers up to the farm to get their Christmas portraits done. If you think about it, it’s kind of brilliant — the location is gorgeous, free, and, technically, you don’t even have to buy a tree. Though, that seems pretty unfair to the farm, so I wouldn’t recommend doing that.

Put Your Phone Down & Enjoy The Moment With Your Family

It’s not every day you and your family get to walk through a wonderland of Christmas trees. You’re going to want to take pictures, you’re going to be wrangling the kids (and maybe the dog), and you have a mission to accomplish: find a tree. But don’t forget to enjoy the experience. You are making big, beautiful holiday memories with your family that you won’t want to forget. Sure, the pictures you might never print off of your phone will help, but in the long run you want your kids to look back one day and remember how special picking out a tree with their family was. Hopefully it will be something they pass down to their kids, too.

After a very frustrating first birth experience, this Deaf mother wanted a change. Will the help of two Deaf doulas give the quality communication and birth experience this mom wants and deserves? Watch Episode Four of Romper's Doula Diaries, Season Two, below, and visit Bustle Digital Group's YouTube page for more episodes.

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