My family loves Christmas trees so much that our hearts jump when we see the first tree lots go up before Thanksgiving.
And it's all we can do to keep ourselves from bringing one home the day they go on sale.
In years past, we've actually sat in the parking lot the day after Thanksgiving, waiting for the Christmas tree lot to open.
But we won't make that mistake again.
We've had too many Christmas mornings with the tree so dried out that we've been afraid to turn on the lights. Now we try to wait till at least three weeks before Christmas to get the tree.
As a result, we've become experts on prolonging Christmas tree life. It's our own little Christmas miracle. And we'd like to share our Christmas tree tips with you.
When should you buy your Christmas tree?
Do as we say, not as we do - wait till two weeks before Christmas to get the tree (if you possibly can).
If you can't - well, keep the vacuum cleaner handy.
Is it better to buy a pre-cut tree (the ones in the lot) or to cut your own?
Common sense tells you that trees are fresher if you march out to the farm and cut it yourself.
With commercial lots, you never know how long the trees have been cut or how they've been handled en route.
If you cut your own, go to a reputable grower who shapes his trees and irrigates his lot, especially if you live in a drought area.
(We cut our tree during a drought not too long ago. Needless to say, that tree was DOA.)
Use the same freshness tests in the field that you would use in a commercial lot.
Just because the tree is still stuck in the ground doesn't mean it's not stressed.
Most species of trees hold up well if you buy them fresh, so just choose what you like.
Follow these Christmas tree tips to make a healthy and economical choice:
Once you've selected your tree, ask the attendant to cut one inch off the base at the lot.
A fresh cut enables the tree to take up water.
As soon as you get home, place the tree in a pail of water because the sap will seal the pores again in four to six hours.
If you aren't going to put the tree up right away, put it in a cool place that's protected from sun and wind.
Just before you put the tree in the stand, cut another half-inch off the trunk.
How to care for the tree to keep it from drying out? These tips can help:
As long as the tree is taking up water, it's OK, and should not be a fire danger. None of the additives such as aspirin, sugar, etc., really help much - just keep the water coming.
Other safety tips include:
Follow these tips and hopefully, you'll have a Christmas tree that you can actually light and enjoy on Christmas morning.