New Traditions

Find this year’s Christmas tree in Central Oregon’s backyard.

My boots crunched through the snow as I tromped through the woods somewhere off Century Drive. My ever-energetic dog bounded over Manzanita bushes and ducked under tree branches that dusted her fur with the sugary-white powder of snow. Armed with some warm gloves and a saw (and a permit from the forest service), I wandered around in search of the perfect tree amid an entire forest of evergreens: this year’s Christmas tree.

I used to complain about having to do this—our whole family outing into the woods to look for one tree amongst thousands that would suit the criteria of our living room. We used to just drive into town and pick out a perfectly manicured Douglas fir farmed to grow around eight feet tall with needles that wouldn’t fall off. Then we would hop back into our warm car and call it good.

Now we were faced with the challenge of finding a tree that almost always resembled the classic Charlie Brown tree: a gap on one side from a bird nest, branches too thin to hold ornaments but just big enough to shelter a bunny from a snow storm, needles slightly nibbled on by a hungry fawn.

But today I realized that this year’s tree would be all the more meaningful for precisely those reasons. Furthermore, we had made a family adventure out of it; I will forever remember these winter excursions, while the insignificant trips to the Christmas tree stand in town will quickly slip away. And finally, I fully appreciated how lucky I was to even live in a place where this unique opportunity was presented to me.

Christmas is about tradition: cookies, presents, and Santa—or, in the typical Bend-ite’s case, skiing down Thunderbird, putting on a puffy jacket, and enjoying a Jubelale downtown with friends. But nothing says Christmas like the fresh pine scent of a Christmas tree in your home—especially one that you cut down yourself.

Permits (and tree-cutting rules) are only $5 and readily available around Central Oregon, including Bi-Mart, the Central Oregon Visitor Association and the VisitBend office downtown if you want to start a new tradition of your own.

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