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Families search for perfect tree

November 30, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Her mission Saturday was to get a Christmas tree, but the first thing Teresa Crowl did when she got to the Hagerstown-area tree farm was head for the warming hut.

There, she found the welcoming smells of coffee and hot chocolate. But more importantly, shelter from a cold and windy day.

Before she knew it, her husband and two daughters had picked out a tree without her input.

Did she feel like she missed?

"Sometimes it's better that way," she said.

Area families didn't let Saturday's nippy weather stop them from following their post-Thanksgiving tradition of getting a Christmas tree.

For some, the few flurries only added to the ambiance.

Opening weekend sales of live and pre-cut trees was as brisk as the weather, said Danny Blickenstaff of Mount Hope Farms, which is off Mount Tabor Road west of Hagerstown.

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"It's a buying crowd," he said.

It's a good year for people who like to get their Christmas trees early. The wet weather will ensure that most trees, even those that have been pre-cut, stay nice through Christmas, he said.

If watered daily, Scotch pines will last six to eight weeks and firs will last four to six weeks. Spruce trees are less hardy, lasting only two to three weeks, he said.

Crowl said her family has been chopping down their own Christmas trees every year since she was a little girl.

Now she carries on the tradition with her two daughters, ages 10 and 11.

She, her mother and her sister always go tree shopping on the same day. Ordinarily, it would be next weekend, but the activity was moved up a week this year because of a scheduling conflict.

Carol DiBiase, 42, of Greencastle, Pa., went tree shopping on her own. At 16 and 22, her children weren't interested in the tradition. Her husband had to work.

Getting a live tree at Christmas is a tradition her parents instilled in her before they bought their first artificial tree.

DiBiase said she has never liked artificial trees.

"I've never been able to wrap myself around that. I like the smell," she said.

After she picked out a tree skinny enough to fit nicely in her small living room, DiBiase waited for Mount Hope employee John Stotelmyer to return with a truck and chain saw.

But he never came back.

DiBiase had to walk back to the warming hut, where she found him feeling bad that he had forgotten her.

Apologizing, Stotelmyer offered to share some of the pizza he had just ordered.

DiBiase was able to laugh about the oversight.

Jody Hunt, 42, came all the way from Clarksburg, Md., to get a nine-and-a-half foot concolor white fir tree, which is known for its citrus-smelling needles.

Hunt, who brought his twin 6-year-old sons and 20-month-old daughter with him, said the family would go home and put the lights on the tree Saturday night.

His son Gannon seemed disappointed to learn from his father that the actual decorating probably wouldn't take place until later in the week.

"During the week, it'll be Christmas," Gannon said.

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