T hanksgiving is here and it’s time for us to count the blessings we have. One of the many blessings I have is readers...

T hanksgiving is here and it’s time for us to count the blessings we have. One of the many blessings I have is readers like you. My column is not an opinion or inspirational piece, but take one minute and ponder this. You may not think you mean much in this world, but you mean the world to someone, and that someone is thankful for you.

Each year, many people will use the weekend after Thanksgiving Day to decorate their homes for Christmas. In my house, it is not officially the Christmas season until the placement of the Christmas tree. Some people prefer to use artificial trees that can be used for many years. However, some would not allow anything other than a fresh-cut tree to adorn their place of residence. Perhaps you are a dedicated fresh-cut tree family or you just want to try one this year. Here are some facts and tips that will help you make your selection easier and keep your tree looking good through the entire holiday season.

Virginia has a thriving Christmas tree industry. Virginia is ranked in the top 10 states for number of farms and for trees grown and harvested. Tree farms from under an acre to hundreds of acres harvest and sell more than one million trees annually. The growing time for a typical six-to- seven-foot tree purchased is seven years. Some of the farms are production only, but many offer cut your own trees. There are a few cut your own farms a half-hour to an hour’s drive from Chester. For additional information, check out the VA Christmas Tree Growers

Association website at http://www.virginiachristmastrees.org/ Popular varieties include Fraser fir, Colorado blue spruce, and Scotch pine.
Christmas trees have voluntary standards set by the USDA in the late 1980s. The standards are, in order, Premium, Number 1, and Number 2. The grading is based on taper, shape, density, and number of defects per face of tree (trees have four faces or sides). Premium and Number 1 trees will cost more but who is going to see the “defective” side of the Number 2 tree facing the wall?

There are numerous individual tree lots and there are trees at garden centers and retail stores for sale. Pay attention to how the trees are displayed. Trees should be standing individually. Cut trees left out in the sun and wind, without water, will dry out quickly. The tree should be in a basin with water or in sawdust or mulch that is watered daily so the tree will have moisture.

Regardless of pre-cut or “cut your own,” you will need to make a fresh, straight quarter-inch cut across the base of the tree after you get it home. Place the tree in a quality tree stand with water quickly, or a sap seal will form at the cut, preventing the tree from absorbing moisture.

If you are not decorating the tree immediately, place it in a large bucket of water and refresh as needed. Fresh-cut trees can absorb a gallon of water in the first 24 hours. On average, the tree will absorb one quart of water per inch of trunk diameter per day thereafter. Do not let the base become dry. Keep the tree away from heat sources and drafts, including TVs and HVAC vents.

Whether your tree is a fresh-cut or an artificial, turn up the Christmas tunes, decorate it, and enjoy it.