The Christmas tree hunt December 15, 2010 — by Emily Williams Junior Emily Williams The Christmas tree—a pagan tradition ingrained in a Christian holiday. Perhaps it is a sign of the commercialization of Christmas along with Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman. However, a Christmas tree is a sacred holiday tradition that should not be taken lightly. The Christmas tree—a pagan tradition ingrained in a Christian holiday. Perhaps it is a sign of the commercialization of Christmas along with Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman. However, a Christmas tree is a sacred holiday tradition that should not be taken lightly. It is a tradition in my family to hunt for the perfect tree on a Christmas tree farm on Skyline Boulevard called Castle Rock, which resembles a partially organized forest, where the owners give you a saw and let you find and cut down your own tree in the vast expanse of Christmas trees. In fact, this family bonding time really gets my family into the spirit of the holiday season. Although plastic trees and trees from a lot are convenient and easy to buy, nothing can replicate the experience of hunting in the semi-wilderness for the perfect tree. It all starts with the drive up Big Basin and then Skyline, where my mom is telling me that I’m driving too fast, my dad is telling stories about mishaps he had on this same road and my 13-year-old sister is threatening to throw up in the back seat. It’s a time to get away from our hectic lives. Our phones lose their signal in the snowy mountains; the radio is all static, with the occasional sound of a familiar Christmas tune. There is only family to keep you company. Armed with a saw and an attack dog in the form of a 30-pound fluff ball named Jetsun, my family struck out in to the forest, willing to hike miles to find the perfect tree and positive that the next one will be better than the last. One must take great care in choosing the perfect tree, which is inevitably a symbol of the family and a catalyst of memories. It is that vital background to Christmas pictures and memories, forever living on in a family long after it is gone. It stands in the window to salute passersby and show them that a spirited family lives within that house. Consequently, there are certain characteristics that a Christmas tree must have. 1. It must be at least 8 feet tall (yes, a tape measure is appropriate). 2. It must be a White Fir. 3. It must be elegantly shaped — not too boxy and not too narrow. 4. Its branches must be evenly spaced. 5. It must give you that feeling that it is meant to be yours for a couple of weeks. All these requirements are up for interpretation, and thus we must see every tree on the farm before we make a decision. In a way, we are like hunters prowling through the woods, eyes peeled, senses keen. Darting forward at the sight of a potential kill only to draw back because of an imperfection. After an hour-and-a-half hike and no luck, we found ourselves back where we started, only to find two perfect Christmas trees, side by side, just 200 yards from our car. Next came the inevitable disagreement: which tree to choose? Suddenly, my sister and I were pitted against each other as I was rooting for the taller, more graceful tree, while she wanted a fuller, squattier tree. In the spirit of Christmas I let her have her way, this time. A tree really does represent the family that picks it. It bears the memories of many Christmases past in its branches. And its changing nature represents many years to come in our ever-changing cycle of life.