After the turkey, in comes the tree More families seeking Christmas tree a day after Thanksgiving

November 29, 1997|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

When John and Susan Yore sat down for Thanksgiving dinner, the couple had visions of Christmas trees dancing in their heads, a thought they've been entertaining for weeks, they say sheepishly.

So it was no surprise to find the Yores and their 18-month-old daughter, Gabrielle, traipsing through acres of fir, spruce and pine at Sewells Farm in Taneytown first thing yesterday.

The Yores couldn't help themselves. After all, this is the first year that Gabrielle can begin to understand Christmas and their family's traditions. They just had to get their Christmas tree.

The New Market couple are far from alone, area growers say. And not everybody has a child's excitement to use as an excuse. With leftover turkey and pumpkin pie still fresh in the refrigerator and sales beckoning at the mall, a growing number of people have started a Thanksgiving tradition: putting up the Christmas tree.

"It just seems to get busier earlier every year," said Lori Sewell, who has been selling Christmas trees with her husband, Ronnie, at the family farm in northern Carroll County for 14 years. "Everyone's schedule is so hectic today that it seems this is the only day they can come up for a tree."

Christmas tree growers such as the Sewells believe people are following the accelerated calendar set by the nation's retailers. And as holiday decorating begins earlier, so do the phone calls to places such as the Blue Heron Tree Farm in Centreville, where customers began calling two weeks ago in search of the perfect tree.

"And we've had more calls than usual this year," said Harriet Caporin, who co-owns the Queen Anne's County farm with her husband, Ed.

Despite intermittent rain, Christmas tree growers reported brisk

business yesterday, especially in the morning. The Yores -- both off work from their jobs with the Montgomery County school system -- arrived a few minutes after Sewells officially opened for the season at 9 a.m.

After a perfunctory walk through a display of cut trees, the family headed down a grassy path to the cut-your-own trees. They ended up at the same spot where they had cut trees in previous years.

Towheaded Gabrielle, giggling and grinning, scampered through rows of trees, reaching out with bare hands to grab branches. The Yores bypassed a few trees, familiar from the year before, and settled on a 6-foot-tall Fraser fir.

A few rows away, Jan and Mike Christensen of Columbia debated whether to cut one tree or two as their son Lance, daughter-in-law Lisa and 6-year-old granddaughter, Kelsey, of Sykesville patiently looked on.

The two families have been meeting for more than a decade on the day after Thanksgiving to get their Christmas trees. Jan decorates for every season and, in her house, each season begins at least three weeks early.

It might sound extreme to purists who cling to a dying tradition of decorating the tree on Christmas Eve, but the Christensen women say their method allows their families longer enjoyment of the holiday season.

Mary Burke of Dundalk said her entire holiday schedule would be one day off if she didn't get her Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving.

Burke and her fiance, Keith Simpler, cut a 6-foot-tall blue spruce at Ruhl's Tree Farm in Phoenix. The couple were at the Baltimore County farm by noon and had their new Christmas tree in the stand in their basement family room by 1: 30 p.m.

While Simpler wound strands of colored lights around the branches and sorted boxes of ornaments and other decorations, Burke put a turkey in the oven to serve family and friends at a belated Thanksgiving supper last night.

Burke, a nurse at Union Memorial Hospital, works on Thanksgiving, but she doesn't let that keep her from getting an early jump on Christmas. The couple decorated an artificial tree in their living room Tuesday.

If that seems early, consider the customers who come to Environmental Evergreens Tree Farm in Darlington the weekend before Thanksgiving. Bob and Mary Chance invite regulars to their northern Harford County farm early to tag the trees they want.

"They can walk the fields, select a tree and have their peace of mind. Then they come back the 15th or 20th to find their label and cut it," Bob Chance said.

Chance, an environmental science instructor at a nearby nature center, encourages customers to purchase balled and burlapped trees with the roots intact so that the tree can be planted after the holiday.

Lee and Jill Brannock of Centreville learned the hard way the consequences of not getting to their favorite tree farm early. The couple and their children, Robbie, 9, and Jordan, 5, usually get their tree from Blue Heron Tree Farm.

Last year, the Brannocks arrived about 10: 30 a.m., 90 minutes after the Caporins opened.

"You know how you walk around and one tree catches your eye and you know that's the one?" Lee Brannock said. "Well, last year we walked around and saw that tree, and we walked around the other side and there was already a tag on it."

Their disappointment was eased by another tree, but the Brannocks made sure they wouldn't find themselves in the same predicament this year.

They were the first customers at the farm yesterday, arriving at 8: 45 a.m, before Ed Caporin had finished his coffee.

The Brannocks settled on an 8-foot-tall bushy white pine -- one more important task crossed off their seemingly endless holiday to-do list.

Pub Date: 11/29/97

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