Family starts new tradition of live Christmas tree

Jennifer Lee Preyss By Jennifer Lee Preyss

Nov. 25, 2012 at 5:25 a.m.
Updated Nov. 26, 2012 at 5:26 a.m.

Lydia Cowan, 10, waits for her family in a sea of Christmas trees at Holiday Hills in Victoria.

Lydia Cowan, 10, waits for her family in a sea of Christmas trees at Holiday Hills in Victoria.   Morgan Walker for The Victoria Advocate

Tami Hysell strolled Sunday through the aisles of Holiday Hills Christmas Trees and lightly tugged the trees' needles.

Ranging in height from about four to 12 feet, Hysell perused dozens of freshly cut Nobles, Grands, Nordmanns and Douglas Firs shipped to Victoria from Oregon this week.

"We knew we wanted one that was at least 71/2 feet tall," Hysell explained, smiling.

The family had no other Christmas tree prerequisites, she said. Until this season, she had never purchased a real tree.

"We've always had fake trees. We've had them for the past 15 years because they're easy," said Hysell, mentioning her family's 15-year relationship with a 71/2-foot pink, pre-lit, artificial Christmas tree. "We wanted something nice to smell this year. And we just wanted something different."

Hysell said she couldn't describe what made her abandon the family's long tradition of erecting a fake tree during the holidays. But she hopes the new tradition of selecting and putting up real Christmas trees will carry forward in the future.

"I really do want this to become a new tradition," she said.

Hysell's daughter, Kaitlyn Hysell, said she was excited about having a real tree this season.

"I've always wanted a real tree," said Kaitlyn, a 15-year-old St. Joseph High School student. "We're going to put lights and ornaments on it. And probably some ornaments from our childhood."

The family settled on a 71/2-foot Noble tree, which was cut for a second time and netted before it was loaded on the family's vehicle.

Across the parking lot, another satisfied customer, who is also Hysell's Ashley Furniture HomeStore co-worker, packed a 10-foot Nordmann tree in the back of his truck.

"I always get real trees. It's the smell that just reminds me of Christmas," said Ben Streiff, who was thrilled Hysell decided to leave her pink fake tree behind and go green this season. "When I go in a house this time of year, I want to smell coffee and Christmas trees. That's it."

Streiff said he decided on the Nordmann tree variety because his 5-year-old daughter, Emily "Shuggs" Streiff, picked it out.

"She said, 'Daddy, I want that one.' So we got this one," he said. "The first Sunday after Thanksgiving, we always go pick out our tree. That's how it's been since I got married eight years ago."

"I wanted this tree because I like them big," Emily giggled. "Christmas is my favorite holiday. I want Santa to put a teddy bear under the tree this year."

Both the Hysell and Streiff families agreed that picking out a family Christmas tree together helps kick off the season right.

"I just can't do artificial trees. And now they come all pre-lit and everything, and it's just not the same," Streiff said. "If there was a Christmas tree farm out here, I'd be the first one there. ... Maybe I'll open one up."



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