On this Thanksgiving Day, from the time we’re done feasting, it will be time to turn our attention to the next holiday, Christmas!  I don’t know about all of you, but I will be avoiding the”Black Friday” retail day! Unfortunately, our lousy economy has created what was once a busy shopping day, into a retail bonanza being advertised as if this day is more important than Christmas itself!  Sometimes I wonder if our present society has forgotten what this season is really about. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, or others, the idea is for family to be close, help those in need, and enjoy our individual blessings. For those of us raised in a Christian household, we are supposed to be humble to the birth of Jesus.  I don’t recall anything about money pressure put on families to give the most gifts in order to show up whoever! I know by overdoing it at the stores we do help the ailing economy, but I’m in favor of a more loving, close, and humble holiday.

   About that live cut Christmas tree. When you venture out to the tree lots to find that perfect tree, hopefully with your family in tow, here’s are some of the things to look for. After you have separated a tree you chosen from the others, first look at shape and fullness. Is it full all the way around? Now days, the shape is pretty easy as most tree growers are out in their tree fields in summer shearing and shaping the trees. After choosing a full nicely shaped specimen, check the freshness, Do this by gently bending a few branches around the tree. If they are pliable or “bendy”, the tree is good. If you notice a lot of needle drop when you shake it or brittle branches, put that one back. It’s okay to ask the attendant when the trees were harvested, most tree harvesting goes from mid September to the end of October. If the harvested trees are stored out of the sun and wind and typically cool fall temperatures, they will be fine.

    It’s important to put a fresh-cut on the trunk just before setting the tree up in the stand. That is very important as it will help the tree take up water. Without the fresh-cut, the tree won’t drink because the original cut has healed over.

   Once you have the tree mounted in the stand, set it up in your house. Locate the tree away from heat registers, the fireplace, and south-facing windows. When watering the tree, use room temperature water, not cold or too warm. Watch the first days as the tree will be taking up water quickly after each watering. You can use a chemical additive to the water if you’d like. It really cheap and is available most anywhere. Over the weeks until take down after Christmas watch the water level everyday. You will also lose water to evaporation.  You can slow the evaporation by pulling the tree skirt up over the stand.

    Once you have the tree set up and watered, let the bows fall for at least several hours. If you start stringing lights and decorating before the bow fall, when they do fall, it will change you decorating scheme!

    My favorite Christmas tree is a sheared Balsam fir. It holds its needles very well, it’s “the” traditional tree from old Europe, and the fragrance is unmatched! The next best is the Fraser fir. This tree is known for its rich color, fullness, needle holding, and fragrance. It’s also the most expensive tree. The price is dropping some because they are now being grown in Minnesota and Michigan as well as their original fields in the Smokeys of North Carolina!  The Scots pine is known for its natural shape, needle holding, and it’s longer needles.  In Northern states, you will also find the Norway pine which has very long needles, more random shapes, and greater difficulty to decorate. These make excellent trees for flocking. Remember the difference, firs are short needled and pines are long needled.

    I hope you can use these tips, I learned from “the master”, my Dad, John Obert. As a boy, every year I’d go out with Dad to find the perfect tree. Sometimes it would take us more than a day. He was a perfectionist! For those of you that knew my Dad, I’m sure you’ll agree! If you have questions, please e-mail me at;, or call, 612-747-5575. Thank you, and please have an enjoyable relaxing holiday season and don’t forget what it’s supposed to be about.

Cam Obert


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