KENTVILLE, NS – Cutting down a Christmas tree is not just a tradition – it’s an experience.
This is the outlook at Rocky Mountain Christmas Tree U-Pick farm in Kentville. It’s a family-run business currently owned by Karena VanKippersluis, who inherited it from her parents who started it more than 30 years ago.
Memories of running the farm and choosing Christmas trees were difficult for VanKippersluis after her parents both passed seven years ago, but seeing other families start their Christmas tree traditions themselves has kept her going.
“The memories forged here are what make this such a beautiful tradition for people. That’s really what it’s all about,” she said.
Traditions take root quickly
The farm is a Christmas tree u-pick, meaning anyone looking for a tree not only finds and chooses their own, but cuts it down as well.
The lane leading to the farm’s staging area is lined with pine and spruce trees, seemingly ready for Christmas, but it’s further in where the real treasures are found.
On snowy days, VanKippersluis’s husband, Sam Bunguy, gives rides to the kids on a Kubota snowmobile-like machine, and serves hot chocolate and candy canes.
Twins Kaitlyn and Emily Merrill, aged 10, led the way as their parents Tiffany and David, along with younger brothers Ryan, 5, and Gavin, 2 and aunt and uncle Lisa and Chad Jackson walked through the farm’s land looking for their perfect Christmas tree.
“I like looking around because it’s kind of like an adventure,” said Kaitlyn.
“Me too, and I really like coming with family and getting to explore,” said Emily.
Tiffany said the family has been cutting down their own Christmas trees from u-pick farms for three years. After the first year, her kids insisted they keep the tradition going.
“It’s definitely easier to just go buy an already cut tree, but we just so enjoy hunting for one,” she said.
Memories that stem from
VanKippersluis found Christmas hard for a long time after her parents passed just days apart seven years ago around Christmastime.
That, along with those farm memories, made celebrating the holiday hard. But, in recent years, VanKippersluis she and her husband have begun looking forward to the holiday again.
Their children Isaac, Annika and Marika now have their own memories of cutting down Christmas trees, which fills VanKippersluis with joy, as she remembers her own years spent doing the same thing with her parents.
While such memories can be bittersweet to recall, seeing her own young family and others like it – young or old – is something she continues to hold dear.
“It’s tough in same ways, and incredible in others. These traditions are a big part of Christmas, and keeping that going for people and for ourselves is why we do what we do,” she said.
The farm’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/treeupick/?fref=ts