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Rooted in tree traditions

Finding one’s own Christmas tree has taken root for many Newfoundland families

Christmas prep for Shaun Boone involves weaving wreaths and trimming trees — not with decorations, but rather pruning the branches themselves to ready them for families fulfilling a Christmas tree tradition.

He runs the Boone’s U-Pick Christmas Trees in Grand Falls-Windsor alongside his wife, Jennifer Boone, and daughters Kerri-Ann and Krista, who travel home each Christmas to be with their parents. It’s not a business that makes Shaun much money, but that’s just fine with him; it’s not his main objective in running the U-pick. “I do it mainly because people come with small children and have a ball of going out to try and pick a tree. It’s a rewarding feeling when they come out,” he says.

Hobby branches out

Shaun started his U-pick farm more than 20 years ago, when family trips in search of a wild tree were constantly thwarted by too much snow and too few trees that fit the bill. “So, I had spare land and here we are. Each year, I’d cut out a small section and plant a few trees. I now plant about 100 per year,” says Shaun.

Recipes, traditions and more in our Holidays section
Recipes, traditions and more in our Holidays section

He soon found there were too many to manage and invited family and friends to come pick their own, but even that didn’t cut it. “It became too much work for a hobby, so Krista made up a sign and we put it on the side of the road. I didn’t expect to sell any, but those first three to five years sold a lot of good trees,” says Shaun.

The U-pick counts 700 to 800 trees and, while the number of visitors can vary year to year, it can see up to 70 people per year. The main customers are families with small children, many of whom have returned year after year since the U-pick first opened. “Last year, I remember someone saying they weren’t big enough to carry a tree before, but that they were this year. It always feels good to hear things like that,” says Shaun.

A special family time

Shaun says the U-pick also brings his family together around Christmas. As Krista and Kerri-Ann arrive home for the holidays, the family will gather to make Christmas wreaths and centrepieces for the table that are sold at the U-pick. “We get some time with our girls altogether that way. We’ll sit together and make the wreaths — that is Christmas for us,” he says.

Kerri-Ann runs the U-pick’s Facebook page and agrees that Christmas is indeed a special time for their family, as they thread trimmed boughs and cones together. She says the best part of the Boone Christmas is going out as a family to find their own tree from among those at the U-pick. She and Krista cut it down and their dad puts it up in the house.

“We’ll all sit while he slowly rotates the tree so we can all agree on the perfect angle,” she laughs. “Dad is then in charge of putting the lights on and then we all decorate.”

This content originally appeared in YULETIDE PREPARATIONS, a SaltWire custom publishing title. 

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