Finding homegrown tree part of family tradition

Jerry Apps
Finding the perfect Christmas tree on the family farm is part of the Apps' family annual holiday tradition.

It’s an annual tradition, which usually takes place on the Sunday following Thanksgiving.  Everyone who is available, kids, grandkids, grandparents—all gather at Roshara, our farm, in search of the perfect Christmas tree.

This year it was daughter Sue, son, Steve, daughter-in-law, Natasha plus the Old Timer who drove the ATV and let the younger ones do the searching. Searching for the perfect tree. Not too tall, not too short, not too bushy, not bushy enough. I heard these words as the search continued.

The search is not an easy one. We’ve planted over 20,000 trees at Roshara-mostly red pine. But we also have a goodly number of self-seeded pines—white pine mostly, but a fair number of Scotch pine as well. Which one should it be—actually the trio was searching for three trees, one for each family, and each family wanting a special tree. Grandma Ruth likes a full tree with short needles—a Scotch pine fits the bill. Sue and Paul like a similar tree—another Scotch pine. Steve and Natasha go towards a soft needled white pine.

My job, hauling the trees, more than a half-mile from the back corner of the farm. And of course, one of the trees fell out of the ATV, without me knowing it. Happens every year. So, it was turning back and searching for the lost tree. All part of the tradition. All part of the fun. All part of finding a homegrown, wild tree, as we call them.

 THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Christmas is a perfect time for traditions.

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