Of Trees and Traditions: My Latest Fathering Column in LocalParent Magazine; Plus Barrett’s Christmas Tree Farm

The happiest reason to have your holiday plans go off the rails.

The happiest reason to have your holiday plans go off the rails.

69IssuePK.inddThere was a time, I will admit, that I would have left all of my Christmas preparations until the last minute.  Waiving the stereotypical “dude” flag, you’d find me immersed in the Christmas Eve pandemonium, fighting for parking spots and feeling a strange combination of good cheer and desperation.

The truth is, I still keep some of my shopping for Christmas Eve.  Oh, not the big purchases.  Not the trips to the mall.  But rather the handcrafted chocolates that I pick up from Naked Chocolate or gift certificates from any number of friendly downtown retailers.

Last year, though, everything was pushed to the last minute.  And I mean everything.  Krista, who is usually way ahead of the game with these things, found herself with barely a present bought.  The house was bare of decorations and the cupboards empty of holiday food and drink.  As for my shopping?  I had nothing.

It was 100% holiday “fail.”

I would, however, like to point out that our procrastination wasn’t really the fault of, well… procrastination.  Instead, it was a result of our days-old infant ending up in the hospital.  Born on the 12th of December, Clara blissfully scuttled much of our usual holiday planning (in all of the most adorable ways).  And by throwing us a scare and spending the two days before Christmas in the hospital, she managed to scuttle the rest (and to this day, I remain thankful that it was only a scare).

As a result, some of the traditions that we hoped to begin last year were put on hold.  Others that we never anticipated were begun.  I captured some of that story in my latest LocalParent fathering column (you can read the entire magazine here).  It’s a light and enjoyable read.  I also chronicled the scary but eventually joyous story in full.  Check back here, just before Christmas, for Christmas Eve in the Hospital (or Clara and her Ambulance Reindeer) — what is soon to become a holiday favourite…  at least to us.

Tree expert and pony whisperer, Julie Barrett, takes some down time at the petting zoo. Don’t let her gentle demeanor fool you — she also wields a mean hacksaw.

Tree expert and pony whisperer, Julie Barrett, takes some down time at the petting zoo. Don’t let her gentle demeanor fool you — she also wields a mean hacksaw.

Now here is where we move from this article being a plug for my column into being a plug for some wonderful folks, just down the road in Cobourg.  In my story, I refer to the fact that we’ll be taking Baby Clara Grace out to chop our own tree.  What I didn’t include in the article was the fact that we’d be going to our favourite tree farm.  Really, I didn’t have to.  Barrett’s Christmas Tree Farm has a prominent ad right below my column.  I believe this is referred to as serendipity.

Barrett’s has pretty much everything you’re looking for in a traditional Christmas tree outing, including a great selection of tree varieties.  They’ve got five types of Spruce: White, Black, Blue, Norway, and Meyers. You can also add Scotch and White Pine, and Balsam Fir to the list.  Being Frasers, we picked out a lovely Fraser Fir for ourselves.  Now that’s tradition.

Acres of land to tromp around?  Check.

Horse Rides? Hiking Trails? A Petting Zoo? Campfire? And hot chocolate?  Check, check, check, check…  and… check.  Plus some hot apple cider to boot.

But what appeals to us most is the close-knit, family-friendly vibe.

During our most recent visit, Bob (father) was seen driving a hay/tree wagon, stoking a campfire, and striking up conversation with just about anyone within hollering distance.  Diana (mother) was twisting up long strands of garland, handing out hot chocolate, and acting as hostess extraordinaire.  Julie (child #2) was introducing kids to ponies and giving advice on trees.  Ryan (child #1) was away at school, but will be joining in upon his return.

Alongside the family were a crew of friends and neighbours — everyone quick with a smile and a bit of tree talk.

About that tree talk.  Julie offered us plenty.  And most of it came in the form of good advice.

Asked about what kind of tree will last the longest, she replied “one that is kept in water.”  She’s wise beyond her years, that kid.

tree farmVariety isn’t as important as care, she explained.  “It doesn’t matter what kind of tree you have. Unless you make sure that it is watered, it is going to drop its needles.”  She insists that any variety will last the season if treated right.

As for treating it right, Julie suggests making sure the cut is fresh.  “If you’ve let it sit a few days before putting it up, be sure to saw it again, about an inch from the bottom.”  She also explains that the first drink that you give the tree should be a hot one.  “Once your tree is up, fill your stand with the hottest water that your tap can pour.  It helps open the pores of the tree and prevent scabbing.”

Finally, don’t let that tree dry out.

“It’s a long holiday season,” she reminds.  “And when it comes to caring for our Christmas tree, you’ve really only got one job.”

Unlike the Barrett family of course.  They’ve got a tonne of them.  All of which go into making your Christmas visit a memorable one.

Barrett’s Christmas Tree Farm is a family owned and operated Christmas tree farm.  Located at 3141 Williamson Rd., just north of Cobourg. They are open every day of the Christmas season during daylight hours.  For more information, please visit their website.  Or “like” their Facebook page.

To read the entire edition of LocalParent Magazine, please visit their website.