My Central Oregon Holiday Tradition

Cutting Down My Own Christmas Tree

Each year, I look forward to chopping down my own Christmas tree. Without fail, I wake up in the morning with a gigantic grin on my face, throw off the covers and pronounce, “Let’s get ready to go Christmas tree cutting!” While my family is small—just my husband and myself—my enthusiasm isn’t. There are no children jumping up and down, anticipating the excitement of an outdoor Christmas tree cutting experience, but the sentiment is every bit as dramatic as if the house was full of little kids.

I fix a thermos of hot chocolate, make sure there’s a little Amaretto tucked away in the lunch bag, and collect all the necessities that will ensure our comfort for the day. We rev up the truck’s engine and off we go into the Central Oregon forest to hunt down a Douglas fir, or a White fir—our favorite types of trees to decorate.

Central Oregonians find Douglas fir and White fir trees at higher elevations, so we head up Century Drive toward Mt. Bachelor. Fresh snow on the ground ensures everyone else is up skiing. We park in a safe spot, grab our handsaw and cam straps and start trekking through the snow. We sink up to our hips in the white fluffy stuff but it doesn’t matter. The perfect tree awaits just 30 feet or so ahead of us. It’s beautiful—about nine feet in height with delineated branches and needles begging to be decorated. The handsaw is employed, and within minutes, we are dragging the tree back to the pickup. I simply cannot wait to get it into the house and place every ornament in the perfect spot.

The concept of tradition takes on many forms during the Judeo-Christian holiday season. Holiday rituals need not be solely defined by religious activity, however. Cutting down our own Christmas tree is my little family’s own holiday custom. It behooves the soul to do something just for the sake of fun during the holidays and our do-it-yourself approach to Christmas tree hunting is something I look forward to every December.

Let’s get ready to go Christmas tree cutting!

I’ve collected ornaments from around the world and love to take my time, placing every memory on the branches. My annual Christmas gift to myself is reliving the story behind each trinket that goes on the tree. There are so many memories that go into our Christmas tree every year!

Permits are required to cut down a Christmas tree and can be purchased for just $5 at the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forest offices in Central Oregon, as well as at many local retailers. Once you obtain a permit, make sure you follow all instructions, including only cutting down trees in earmarked areas. Warm clothes, gloves, a sturdy handsaw and a way to secure the tree in the back of a truck or on top of a car are a must. Finding the perfect tree may involve walking off-trail, therefore, snowshoes or accessing the forest via cross-country skis should also be considered.

FS.USDA.gov