One of my favorite days during the Holiday season is not an actual holiday itself, but the day my family does our tradition of cutting down the Christmas tree! This tradition includes my mom, my brother and his wife, my husband and I, plus our three children. The day is solely about the family being together, walking around in the beautiful Camino Apple Hill area, and finding the perfect tree. It is not a tradition that we plan out for weeks or cook a huge elaborate meal for. It’s a simple, spur of the moment day that we pick based on the weather (not too rainy) and everyone being available. Somehow it always winds up being wonderful, and this year’s outing was no exception. Maybe it’s because of the lack of planning, I don’t know. There is no stress leading up to this day.
The tree cutting day always starts out at my mom’s house, somewhere around noon. This time I opted to bring soup for everyone from leftover turkey. I made soup made with homemade turkey stock, carrots, celery, onion, peas, corn, and of course, turkey. Then I made rolled up stuffing balls from leftover stuffing and had them for anyone who wanted to put some in their soup as a sort of dumpling. The meal took me about 30 minutes to make and my family loved it. I kind of winged it but here is a recipe for pretty close to what I made:
For a lower calorie version like mine, omit the potatoes and the half and half and increase vegetables. Instead of using the pie dough, I made stuffing balls (using up my leftovers:) I rolled stuffing in balls and placed on a baking sheet, and baked at 400 degrees until the balls were crisp. If your stuffing is too loose, you may need to add an egg or two to bind it in order to form balls.
We ate our soup and put some hot cider in thermoses for the tree cutting ( I will admit that a few thermoses had whiskey in it, too:)
We hopped in the truck and headed to Camino, blasting Christmas music the entire way. Yes I know it wasn’t even December yet but it’s part of the tradition! There are multiple beautiful tree farms in the apple hill area where you can cut your own tree, which is important to my family. We go to different farms each year but this time we went to Frosty Firs. We all walked around the entire tree farm in search of the perfect Christmas tree. This can take hours sometimes… The tree has to be agreed upon, and it can’t be too bushy, too sparse, too tall, too short, too flimsy, can’t have bare spots, AND most importantly, It has to smell good. This is what makes our tradition unique: Once we finally all decide on the perfect tree, as part of our tradition every year we HAVE to take a family picture of all of us sniffing the tree. But we can’t ask an outsider to do it, we don’t want anyone to think we are strange. So we attempt at propping the camera on a tree stub and set a timer, or we try for a group selfie. Then we make several attempts at a picture that has everyone in it sniffing a branch of the tree. It’s not as easy as it sounds, especially with three young children in the picture and needing to be lifted for it. But eventually, we get our picture! Once the picture has been taken we yell “Cutter!” because most farms want to at least supervise the actual tree cutting these days, to our dismay. Then either my brother or husband cuts our Christmas tree (with supervision) and we get it in the truck and ready to take home.
<Here is our family picture this year. My family will be really embarrassed to know I posted this.
What happens after the tree cutting changes each year. Sometimes we go to dinner, sometimes we go back to my mom’s house, sometimes we drive around a bit looking at Christmas lights. This year we went to Jack Russell Farm Brewery which is also in Camino. We thought they served food there but turns out they have food vendors during the day, which unfortunately were closed when we got there. But they had beer and wine, and an outdoor seating area that is great for kids. There is another Jack Russell Brewery in Placerville which is the restaurant, I found out afterwards, and where I would recommend you go if you want an indoor seating area with food.
I am writing about this tradition of ours for a few reasons:
- I am hoping you remember that sometimes the best part of the holidays are the days and traditions leading up to the Holiday.
- You can have a wonderful time with your family without the stress of making a huge meal and then getting mad at yourself for overeating!
- Sometimes the silliest things turn into the best traditions:)
- I am hoping it will encourage you to get out and cut down your own Christmas tree. It’s more active and it’s a lot of fun!
Here is a link to website with a list of Christmas Tree Farms in the Camino area: