Christmas Tree Hunting

As the Christmas season approaches every year, the reruns of the great Christmas movies come on TV. Everyone has their favourites of course; a Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, or for the less traditional, Die Hard. Then there are some we would just as soon as forget. For me there is one I never seem to avoid, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I’ve always wondered if the beginning of the movie, as Chevy Chase tortures his poor family with an all day journey to get the perfect Christmas tree, did more for the artificial Christmas tree market than anything else.

Most of us live in Fernie for the access to the great outdoors, yet in the shoulder season, once mountain biking has wrapped up and before skiing starts, many of us hole up inside, waiting for the snow. One of the many blessings of living here is that it could not be easier to get your own tree. 94% of British Columbia is Provincial Crown Land, much of it surrounds us here in the Elk Valley. As a resident of British Columbia, you are entitled to retrieve one Christmas tree per year from Crown Land without applying for a permit, of any kind. You only need to print off and fill in a free use permit form from the Government website. To find it, just google “Rocky Mountain Christmas tree permit.”

Permit in hand, you can now set forth on your very own Christmas tree adventure. A Christmas tree only lasts for about four weeks, so you will want to go get yours in early December. As there is often snow on the ground by then, this leaves you one of two options. For the more energetic, you can get out the snowshoes and head into the woods, perhaps up Coal Creek, or down towards Morrissey. For those looking for a tamer path, head down to south country, south of Highway 3 towards the Canada-US border. The ground is quite flat, by local standards, and makes for an easy walk, especially as there is often very little, if any, snow on the ground, so the walking is easy.

While walking through the woods looking for your very own tree, your eyes may play tricks on you. Remember that everything looks a lot smaller in the woods that in your living room! This is a good time to bring up another Christmas classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas. Trees in nature bear much more resemblance to Charlie Brown’s famous Christmas tree than to the perfectly balanced and pruned farmed trees. Look for a tree that has mostly evenly distributed branches and remember that one side can always be strategically oriented towards the wall. No matter which tree you choose, it will have a character all its own and new memories to match.

While getting your own tree is not an annual tradition for some, it is at least a rite of passage. So get a thermos of hot chocolate, bundle up, and grab your saw. Go out and complete the rite, and maybe just start your own annual tradition.