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  • Last modified 26 days ago (Dec. 21, 2017)

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Only a real tree would do for boy, 12

Staff writer

Although artificial Christmas trees have overwhelmed the market the past two decades or so, some people still persist in buying a real tree every year.

When Karlene Lovelady of Marion announced the family would not buy a real Christmas tree this year and would just enjoy the artificial tree they put up in the basement every year, her 12-year-old son Taydyn was upset.

“Mom, we have to get a tree,” he exclaimed. “It’s our tradition.”

Her next suggestion was that they buy a tree already cut, but he wasn’t happy with that idea either.

“No, Mom, I have to pick out the tree, and we have to cut it down,” he insisted.

Fortunately, her in-laws saved the day by taking them to Pine Creek Farms at Goessel, like usual, and used their trailer to haul a tree home.

The family decorated the tree together, hanging crocheted ornaments made by Joe’s great-grandmother, ornaments made by their children in school, and bunches of ornaments his grandmother used in the 1930s and 1940s. Even a few tinfoil silver bells Joe made in kindergarten were included. Joe strung lights outside, and Karlene put other Christmas décor throughout the house.

“It feels like Christmas,” Karlene said.

The tradition of a live tree started with Lovelady’s marriage years ago. It was the fulfillment of a childhood dream.

When Karlene was growing up, her mother brought out a two-foot, fully decorated tree every year at Christmas time and pulled it out of its plastic storage bag. All she had to do was plug it in, and Presto! You had a tree! A few other decorations were placed around the living room, and that was it.

Lovelady decided that someday when she had her own home, she would have a real Christmas tree.

“I wanted Christmas to be special,” she said.

So, every year they bought a tree, and every year they and their children, would decorate the tree together, using a different color scheme each year.

And even though Taydyn is the only child still at home, thanks to his insistence, it looks like the tradition will continue.

According to Wynn and Artie Goering, owners of Pine Creek Farms, there are fewer and fewer Christmas tree farms around.

“Not everybody buys a Christmas tree anymore,” Artie Goering said. “That’s what’s changed. A lot of people travel at Christmas time, so they don’t bother with putting up a tree.”

Every year, a few people show up who have never had a live Christmas tree.

“They have grown up on an artificial tree and have decided to try a live tree,” Goering said.

She figures the recent closure of the tree farm near Hutchinson has brought more business to Pine Creek Farms. Sales have remained steady for the last seven of the 10 years that they have owned the business, at 350 trees a year. This year, they had sold 400 as of Friday, with another week to go.

“We’re almost at capacity now,” Goering said. “We can’t oversell or we won’t have enough trees for future years.”

Customers choose and cut their own trees, with Scotch Pine and Austrian Pine being the most popular.

“It’s a tough business,” Goering said. “Kansas isn’t the best state in which to grow pine trees. They don’t like heat or drought.”

She said they plant about 1,200 seedlings a year. The past two years have seen periods of drought that killed more than half. They plan to plant 2,000 seedlings next spring to make up for some of the losses. They also plan to expand their drip irrigation system, which is used to water seedlings the first two years after planting.

Frank Klenda, an employee of Hillsboro Tru Value Hardware, said the store sells anywhere from 20 to 50 artificial trees of various sizes every year. Some have LED lights and fiber optics. They make up the front window display at night.

Store clerk Mike Anderson of Marion County Ace Hardware in Marion said they have sold more artificial trees this year than last.

“The trees are made a lot better than they used to be,” he said. “The larger trees come in three sections, and the branches fold down.”

He said the most popular trees have multicolored lights. Some have flashing lights and play music or are decorated with pinecones and berries and come with pine scents.

“People want them to look natural,” he said.

Last modified Dec. 21, 2017

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