In a world where holiday lights and store displays go up even before Thanksgiving, our family tries to maintain a strong distinction between Advent and Christmas. We don’t play “Christmas” music in our home before December 25th, and all the decorations are strictly limited to Advent images. We don’t even buy a tree, let alone put it up, until very close to Christmas Day.

This was Mrs. Yeoman Farmer’s idea, and I’ve grown to really appreciate it. In my family, our tree and decorations typically went up in early December — and came down around New Year’s Day. It’s been wonderful to rediscover the meaning and definition of these different seasons, and to keep our Christmas displays up throughout the entire Christmas season.

This year was no different. Yesterday, Homeschooled Farm Girl and I finally shoveled our 4×4 truck out of its snow-bound prison, fired up the motor, and set out to find our tree. In recent years, we’ve grown accustomed to getting last minute trees for free — or for five bucks at the most. Why pay more for something you’re going to throw away anyhow?

Why? Well, this year we got the answer. The local grocery store had no trees, leaving few options. We could drive 10-12 miles either north or south, and try to find something. Or we could follow the signs to a local Christmas tree farm.

We chose the latter, even though it meant leaving the truck in 4×4 the entire time. The farm itself was a half-mile down a dirt driveway; we never could have reached it with a different vehicle. Once we arrived, we discovered sticker shock: after so many years of picking up cheap last-minute trees, I was amazed to learn that these trees cost upwards of $40. Or more.

The guy did have one tree that was already cut. It was a bit on the short side, but was well-shapen. And he said he’d let it go for twenty bucks. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time hunting for the perfect tree, so I agreed to take the short one.

But more than that, I had a larger reason for buying my tree there: I wanted to get it directly from the farmer, to support his family, and keep the money in our local community. Was $20 more than I was used to spending? Yes. But where was that $20 going? Directly into the pocket of a guy who had spent a lot of time and sweat building a beautiful Christmas tree farm. No middlemen. No brokers. Directly into the farmer’s pocket.

How do you put a pricetag on that? I certainly can’t. That’s why I happily paid the twenty bucks, took the tree home with Homeschooled Farm Girl, and will think about that farmer every time I look at the beautiful tree in our living room.

Merry Christmas to you all.

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