From Hockessin to Delmar, Delawareans are taking home their Christmas trees
O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, wie gruen sind deine Blätter.
Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit, nein auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.
O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, wie treu sind deine Blätter.
Many Americans can recite this German song about the Christmas tree, even though they may not understand the words.
O Tannenbaum, written in 1824 by Ernst Anschütz to the tune of a traditional folk song, celebrates the promise of renewal by remaining green not only in summer but through the winter.
German immigrants carried this belief across the ocean, and Americans today carry on this tradition by harvesting and decorating evergreen trees in their homes.
The ritual began anew just after Thanksgiving Day as families spread out across Delmarva looking for that perfect spruce, Douglas fir or pine.
“It’s looking pretty good,” said Mike Brown, an employee at Turning Pointe Farm outside Hartly. Like most sites selling live trees, Turning Pointe opened Friday and already had sold 20 trees.
The Delaware Department of Agriculture lists 20 tree farms across the First State. Turning Pointe Farm, like 12 others on the list, are members of the Delaware Christmas Tree Growers Association, a group that promotes the growth of healthy trees.
Theresa Gonzalez, the daughter-in-law of Turning Pointe owner Roseann Conlon, said 2018 has seen a “pretty typical” growing season for the family-run business.
“We planted new trees this year like we’ve done for about 30 years,” she said. “We’re hoping for a good Christmas.”
Business has been brisk, though Turning Pointe had been open only two days, she said.
The farm offers more than one species of tree to choose.
“Everyone has their idea of an ideal tree. It really varies with the customer,” she said. “Every year, we’ve had a family come in and they buy a really huge tree, about 16 to 20 feet tall, then they load it on top of this very small car. It’s become a tradition, and we have that with a lot of repeat customers.”
Shreppler’s Tree Farm also gets a lot of returning customers, particularly because the Magnolia-area farm has been in business since the 1960s.
Lisa Crowder of Camden was on hand as Schreppler’s opened bright and early Saturday.
“Today’s not too early to get our tree,” she said after co-owner Paul Schreppler helped her wrangle a cut-and-baled tree into the back of her SUV.
“We would have come out here [Friday], except they didn’t open until today,” Crowder said. “We’ve been coming here for 15 years if not longer.”
Co-owner Linda Schreppler noted the summer of 2018 was a good one for growing.
“It was hot, but we had rain and that doesn’t bother the trees,” she said. The work is getting proper nutrients to the growing trees and ensuring weeds and insects are kept away.
“We trim them to get the perfect shape and trim the tops, to get them as perfect as possible,” Schreppler said.
As she looked over the cars driving onto the lot, with some stopping to get a snack courtesy of the Magnolia Fire Company, Shreppler looked satisfied.
“We’re looking to have a busy season,” she said.
Upstate, at Coleman’s Christmas Tree Farm east of Middletown, customers were cutting their own trees, kids were jumping on inflatables and ice cream was a popular snack despite the cold. Saturday was the second day of their season.
Fortunately, it was not raining – yet, said co-owner Debbie Coleman.
“It’s pretty good so far,” she said, handing out a saw to an arriving customer. “When the weather stays good, that’s when we see the bulk of the people.”
The Douglas fir remains Coleman’s best seller and makes up the bulk of the stock.
Employee Lisa DeVries, who has been with Coleman’s so long she helped plant some of the trees now being harvested, loves seeing some of the same customers over and over again -- and sometimes their children return when they become parents.
“I’ve gotten to know a lot of the customers and repeat customers every year,” she said.
When not at the tree farm, DeVries works for the school district.
“I see a lot of my school kids come here, too,” she said. “It really gets you in the spirit of Christmas.”