Whether a family chooses a pine, fir or even the most ostentatious of artificial models, the Christmas tree becomes the centerpiece of many living rooms across the country in December.
While many opt for more hassle-free solutions, families preferring the old-fashion way of attaining just the right tree have local options.
The Vienna Tree Farm on Warner Road allows customers to walk over 25 acres of evergreen trees and cut down their favorite of the bunch.
A fresh cut tree is baled in preparation for the drive home for a family at the Vienna Tree Farm. Dean Bofenkamp, left, owner of Vienna Tree Farm, works with Alfredo Hernandez and Greg Goss, far right.
"It has been a family tradition of ours," Nick Graham, 40, of Warren said recently as his family wandered over the rows of trees at the farm. "We come every year for the last 35 years. There is something about the act of cutting it down yourself that makes it special."
Dean Bofenkamp, owner of the Vienna Tree Farm LLC, estimates that the Graham family is one of about 200 customers who walk through his selection every year.
"Our peak probably 10 years ago was around 800," Bofenkamp said. "A majority of it (the decline) is due to the economy."
Up the road a piece, Storeyland Christmas Tree Farm on state Route 7 in Burghill was bustling Sunday with families ready to find the perfect tree for their holiday centerpiece. Large tractors pulled customers of all ages through the 167-acre tree farm on a hay ride in hunt of their family evergreen.
"Most people know what they want," said John Yeager, son of Carl and Debbie Yeager who own the 167-acre tree farm.
John explained that the tree farm is a year-round effort. In the spring the family plants between 3,000 and 4,000 seedlings. They shear the trees in the summer months and in the fall dig up trees to be sold roots and all.
John said it takes about seven to eight years to grow a six-foot tall tree, but that the most popular sizes take close to 10 years to grow.
"Like I said, everyone has there own kind of tree," John said pointing out Angela and David Scott, of Mercer, Pa., who just came back from their tractor ride with a fresh cut tree. The couple's selection, less than six feet tall, had about five tree tops.
"Everyone wants that perfect one," said Angela Scott, "but we said why not get something different."
Scott said she will be decorating every top with her husband. This will be the newlywed couple's third year cutting their own tree.
"It's tradition. We have to do it," she said.
Heather Lamont, of Orangeville, said she has been coming out to cut her own tree with her three children for eight years, but that she used to work at the farm so she knows exactly which trees to head for.
"To be honest," Lamont said, "I pick them by their scent."
According to Carl and Debbie Yeager the farm has been in business since 1954 when its previous owners cut down the first tree. The couple took over the business 21 years ago and during the holiday season they sell about 1,000 trees.
For the Graham family and others, retail department stores can't offer the experience of local tree farms such in Vienna.
"I started doing this with the family over three decades ago," Jim Graham, 65, said. "Before then, we would buy them off of lots. But, it is a lot more fun, especially now that our family has grown over the years, to go out and cut down our own. It is just a family tradition."
Bofenkamp said the benefits of tree farms include both physical and spiritual.
"Obviously, the first thing is it gets you outside. We have families that come through and they are out here an hour or two hours. Kids are running around, they get exercise and are out in the fresh air," Bofenkamp said. "It makes it sort of a special thing as opposed to just going out and making it another retail day."
On the spiritual side, he noted families can grow closer by taking part in these kind of traditional activities.
"It's kind of funny, he said. "Some of the kids come out here and they think they are really out in the country. In actuality, you are only 10 minutes outside of downtown Warren, but they think they are out in the middle of Texas or something."