Some folks think it starts the day after Thanksgiving when families begin to drop in and make their selection. It actually starts years before.
Growing Christmas trees is a long-term, labor intensive investment. Just ask Matt Bible of the Merwin Chase Pine Tree Farm in Brookfield.
Matt and his father Chip have been managing this small business since 1984 when they planted their first crop. Then there was the watering, fertilizing and shaping the trees that goes on all summer.
Then the trees must grow. Some trees take years to mature while others take a relatively short time to be the perfect size for Christmas. The Bibles harvested and sold their first tree in 1990.
Matt took over the business from his father five years ago, but it is still very much a family operation, just like many other tree farms in the region - Center Creek Christmas Tree Farm in Bristolville, Storyland in Burghill, Bailey's in Warren, Whispering Pines in Middlefield and Vienna Tree farm in Vienna.
At Merwin Chase, Matt's father serves as a consultant while his mother oversees a small craft shop on the property. They also sell maple syrup from their sugar maple trees. They grow white pine, Colorado spruce, Norwegian spruce and Douglas fir.
''It is so great,'' Matt said. "We get to hear all about returning customer's years and they ask us how our year was.
''The fun thing is to see families come with their children to cut their tree. Now, I am old enough to see some of those children come back with their own kids.''
Since the slump in the economy, Matt has chosen to return to school as well, so he is doing double duty this year. He is pursuing a certificate as a diesel mechanic "just to fall back on." He has a large, volunteer, seasonal staff of part-time workers to help.
Diane Roscoe of Brookfield went to a farm with her family to pick out a tree recently.
''It was so nostalgic to be there," she said. The family allowed the youngest member, her granddaughter Lillea, to pick out the tree. ''It is a real family place and I always run into someone I know or have not seen for a while and we have a chance to visit.''
Since they are small businesses, tree farms can often offer more services like carrying your tree to your car or even delivering it.
''We sell a lot of burlap and balled trees,'' Matt said. These are for people who want to have the tree in their home for a short time and then take it outside for replanting.
Matt tells the story of a young couple who came for a tree at 7 a.m. Christmas morning: ''You could tell that they had broken up recently and had just gotten back together. So, we got up and sold them a tree.''
Tree farms are places where people can take video cameras and film the cutting of their trees with their kids. Farms often offer a cup of hot cider to keep away the chill.
Pine trees are an interesting crop when you think about it. They provide oxygen for everyone, habitat for small animals and birds, soil erosion prevention and a green alternative to an artificial tree stored in the attic each year. They are recyclable and renewable.
Most of the major retail outlets are offering live trees this year. Instead of pulling up to a curb and having a tree loaded into your trunk, might it not be more fun to pick one out at a local tree farm?
Supporting local agri-businesses like the Merwin Chase Pine Tree Farm in Brookfield, Center Creek Christmas Tree Farm in Bristolville, Storyland in Burghill, Bailey's in Warren, Whispering Pines in Middlefield or Vienna Tree farm in Vienna makes good sense ecologically and economically. Stop by for a cup of hot cider. Be sure to bring your camera. Who knows, you may just end of making a few memories of your own.
O'Co nnor is a Brookfield resident. Email her at email@example.com