Solid. Which frankly has become like a tough piece of beef that's hard to swallow. Seriously...it looks like Santa threw up a bunch of Christmas joy on some of these places. And what's worse is that people seem to just want to sit and soak in it.
Several years ago Klotz's closed which left pretty much one option if you wanted to cut down your own tree. The problem was that this place was adding to their "authentic" experience with each passing year. And that was adding to the price of their trees too. Ultimately a few Decembers ago I threw in the towel and went to Lowe's for our tree. It seemed all-together wrong, but really no less commercial than the other alternative. Finally last year was the last straw when I realized I had paid almost $70 for a tree to a place I dreaded going. The whole experience was no more authentic than picking a fake one out in the holiday aisle at Walmart. And that led to me planting a few dozen trees on the Hill that would become trees for future Christmases.
But what to do about this year? The Tribune printed a list of local Christmas tree farms prior to Thanksgiving. I scanned the list and found a farm in Monterey-the closest location to us and only an extra 10 minutes from the commercialized racket we had become accustomed to. So last weekend (a week after they caught the fugitive murderer in the area) I called the Monterey farm and got their hours and a few other details. The fella that I spoke with said he'd even take my wife as trade-in for a tree. This sounded very local so off we went.
This place was perfect. Aside from a wreath on the door and some jingle bells on the owner's old dog, this place had NO pizazz. The owner pointed us in the direction of the spruces and we were hard-pressed to find a bad tree. Not knowing what the damage would be I nearly fell over when he tallied my bill and it was half the cost of the other place....and no charge for shaking and baling. I told him he had a great little place there and I mentioned that - - - - was just becoming too commercialized, and that this was the kind of place I grew up with. He said I wasn't the first person to tell him that. Monterey Pines is a three generation owned family tree farm, and the owner reminded me a bit of uncle Eddie off National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Everything I would want out of the experience.
Now, don't get me wrong. If giant plastic candy canes, Santa and Mrs. Claus, reindeer, et al are your thing-have at it. I don't mean to be dissing any of my friends who patronize the other place, I'm just more comfortable with the way things were back in my day, a little less commercialized......and I don't think the kids missed out on anything either.