Here in Asheville, we seem made for Christmastime. The distant mountains are capped with snow from November to March, and downtown is alive with foot traffic, friendly pedestrians trading hellos under bright wreaths and strands of garland decorating the storefronts. It almost seems a sin to drag out a plastic tree for the holiday, and Asheville has no shortage of places to find a real, fresh Christmas tree. You can’t get any fresher than a tree you cut yourself, and so last Friday- a rare day when all the kids, social creatures that they are, were home-we headed out to our favorite little tree farm to find the perfect one.
Hope Hollow farm is out in Jupiter, a few miles off 19-23, just north of Weaverville. It’s a small place, unpretentious and comfortable, run by an older guy who seems genuinely happy to talk to you and to have your business. We called ahead to let him know we were coming, and soon we were making the trek up the hill to where the sheared white pines sit in neat rows, waiting for homes. The trees are lovely, slightly imperfect and perfect for that very reason. They sit high atop a hill with a view way into Tennessee, and the way the sun hits it almost makes you believe in religion.
I don’t care how durable and lifelike your plastic tree may be- nothing compares to the sight of a passel of bundled-up kidlets running from one tree to the next, touching needles and peering deep into the branches for a glimpse of a bird or a bug, chattering about how this is going to be the best Christmas ever. And yeah, you may save a few bucks by using the same artificial tree year after year, but the $15 for a white pine (or $30 for a Norway spruce) is worth the joy in watching your little man make the first cut in the trunk all by himself. Later, of course, they’ll decorate it with trinkets from when they were younger, memories hung on memories, and the commercialism and greed that seem to seep into the holiday a bit deeper every year dissipate like the steam from your cocoa. That, loves, is what Christmas is about, and I wish you all a most joyous holiday.