The hunt is on.
Thanksgiving now is an afterthought, and Christmas looms less than a month away. Looking to make their holidays more authentic, several Columbia Countians are on the prowl for a real Christmas tree.
"Having a real tree makes Christmas more Christmassy," Evans resident Linda Lewis said.
"It's tradition," said Linda's husband, Randy, who was shopping for trees at Pat Utley Lawn Care Inc. on Saturday. "It's just not Christmas without a real tree."
Several businesses and seasonal lots throughout the county have started selling Christmas trees. Fraser firs are the most common type for sale.
"Fraser firs are tough trees if you take care of them, and they have that traditional Christmas tree shape," said Calvin Burelson, who is selling trees as Plum Tree Farms across from Club Car on Washington Road.
Depending on height and fullness of limbs, Christmas trees often range from $35 to $200. The most popular reason for spending the money on a real tree seems unanimous - the smell.
"We'll have people who have artificial trees come to us to buy clippings from some of our trees just to get that pine scent," said Pat Utley, of Pat Utley Lawn Care Inc.
Mark Harris of Evans, with his sons John and Matthew, looked for a tree in front of the Publix grocery store on Furys Ferry Road.
"You don't get the smell of a real tree with an artificial one," Harris said. "You've got to have the pine smell.
"Plus, I don't care how good of an artificial tree it is, or how much you decorate it, you can always see a little bit of metal somewhere."
Jeff Andrews, owner of All-South Lawn and Landscaping, said the process of buying a Christmas tree is as important as the tree itself.
"It's just a great family, holiday tradition," he said. "You come out to the lot, drink some hot chocolate, eat some boiled peanuts and pick out a tree. It's like officially declaring Christmas is here."
Here are some tips about buying and maintaining Christmas trees:
The most important part of buying a Christmas tree is making sure it's not dry. Grab one of the limbs and pull. If several needles fall off, the tree is too dry. Also bend one of the limbs. If it easily snaps, it is too dry.
Keep the tree hydrated. A Fraser fir can absorb as much as a quart to a half-gallon of water a day. If it goes too long without water, the sap at the bottom of the tree will harden, it won't be able to receive any water and it will dry out.
If the sap does harden, put the tree in near-boiling water to try to melt the sap. If that doesn't work, cut off an inch to two inches from the bottom of the tree and put it back in water.
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