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The most wonderful time of the year… Christmas holds fond memories of cutting and decorating Christmas trees

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
How lovely are thy branches
O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
How lovely are thy branches
Your boughs so green in summertime
Stay bravely green in wintertime
O Tannenbaum, o Christmas tree
How lovely are thy branches
By Bruce Fowler

There is not much that I can remember from my early childhood except when Christmas time rolled around and it came time to put up either a freshly cut cedar or pine tree that would be decorated from top to bottom with lights, ornaments, tinsel, and garland.
It was the time I enjoyed most and it became even more enjoyable when I got a little older when my grandmother gave me the responsibility of going along the railroad track just above my grandparent’s barn and selecting and cutting the tree for that Christmas.
After getting older and eventually marrying, it was much easier and quicker to just buy an artificial tree to put up and take down each Christmas which I still thoroughly enjoy to this day.
However, there is nothing like the fresh scent of a cut Christmas tree that sends such a fragrant aroma throughout the house.
It is something that Bob Jennings has had the pleasure of experiencing for over 40 years while trimming and selling Christmas trees all the while holding down a full-time job with the Forestry service and with the Department of Corrections.
Jennings has spent the last few years running Christmas tree lots in South Carolina but due to a Christmas tree shortage, the company he runs the lots for had to downsize and Jennings is now running Christmas Greenery across from Grindstaff Automotive.
He has trimmed hundreds of thousands of Christmas trees throughout his time involved with Christmas trees having contracted with one customer to trim close to 140,000 trees twice a year as the trees require that trimming to maintain an immaculate shape.
He is retired now from his full-time jobs and works in the Christmas trees part-time now and is assisted by his daughter at the Christmas Greenery lot.
With there being a shortage of trees, Jennings was asked what led to the current shortage.
“About four or five years ago, there were a lot of wealthy people who wanted to invest in Christmas tree farming due to capital gains and they flooded the market,” Jennings said.
“By flooding the market, they created a supply larger than the demand. Well when they started panicking then, the trees went down to nearly nothing in the field. Everybody started cutting their prices and it got down to nothing and it created a shortage between those supplies.
“Now, it’s going to take about six years to build back up.”
Jennings explained that when a Christmas tree is planted to be grown for use in later years, one can figure on about one foot of growth each year so a seven-foot tree for example would be twelve years old when harvested.
Just like any other business where there is a demand for more product, tree shoppers shouldn’t be shocked to see trees selling for a little more this year than in years past.
Jennings said that it also means that if one is going with a live tree, it would be better to get the tree sooner than later to have a decent selection to choose from.
He expects that the pandemic will also require more trees as people will be looking for a way to get their minds off the craziness of 2020.
“I think so because that is the only relief they see right now – just a sigh of relief to celebrate the Christmas spirit with their children and their family,” said Jennings.
“Apparently, they are doing that. I am already at 50 percent at what they did all of last year here. I came down on Thursday before Thanksgiving to get the lot set up and we got our trees the day before Thanksgiving and started selling.
“We sold 10 to 20 trees the first day and then that Friday and it was a good weekend too. We also have sold close to 150 wreaths.”
Jennings offered live tree owners a tip on how to get the most out of your live tree. He said that there needs to be a fresh cut made on the trunk of the tree and by doing so will allow the tree to live up until Valentine’s Day if it is kept watered.
Every tree that is purchased at Christmas Greenery automatically gets a fresh cut plus is wrapped in netting and loaded for the customer.
Fresh hot apple cider is available for customers while they shop the lot which is opened from 10 am to the last customer is served daily seven days a week or until trees are gone.
– Fresh trees are less likely to catch fire, so look for a tree with vibrant green needles that are hard to pluck and don’t break easily from its branches. The tree shouldn’t be shedding its needles readily.
– Always place your tree away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents, or lights, and keep the tree base filled with water to avoid a dry out.
– Make sure all your indoor and outdoor Christmas lights have been tested in a lab by the UL or ETL/ITSNA for safety, and throw out any damaged lights.
– Any lights you use outdoors must be labeled suitable for exterior placement, and be sure to plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter protected receptacle.
– Keep all your holiday candles away from your Christmas tree, surrounding furniture, and décor.
– Bedtime means lights off! ­ Don’t forget to turn your Christmas tree lights off each night.
When your tree begins to drop its needles, it’s time to say goodbye to your evergreen foliage until next year.