Store-bought Christmas tree first for Apps family

Jerry Apps
Steve, Natasha, and Sue decorating our "store-bought" Christmas tree.

Some thirty years ago I said I would never again buy a Christmas tree. After all, Roshara, our Wild Rose farm is mostly a tree farm.

Over the past 50 years, we have planted some 12,000 trees—red pine, white pine, Norway spruce. Even a few blue spruce and a handful of fraser firs. Here and there we also have a few Scotch pine and jack pine volunteers.

I reasoned that surely among that collection of trees there must be at least three decent Christmas trees available each year—for Sue and Paul, for Steve and Natasha, and for Ruth and I.

For many years that was the case. Each year, the weekend following Thanksgiving, the family gathered at Roshara in search of the perfect Christmas tree. It was a fun time—so many choices, so many acres of trees to inspect.

But alas, the weekend following Thanksgiving this year included blowing snow, slippery roads, poor visibility—a bad weather weekend. We agreed it was no weekend for driving.

The tradition was broken. Once more, I was reminded about using the word “never.” Standing in our family room is a beautiful fraser fir Christmas tree—which I purchased.

As to beauty, our homegrown red pine, white pine and Scotch pine trees are merely ordinary when compared to this fraser fir. But beyond ordinary, our own trees are special because we planted them and watched them grow. They are part of Roshara’s history, part of the place’s contribution to our family’s happiness.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Real Christmas trees are special—whether store-bought or homegrown.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to