The Grant family almost left Thompson’s Tree Farm in Lawrenceville empty-handed on Saturday — until they discovered the Fraser Fir section.
Then it wasn’t a question of whether the family would get a tree from the farm. It was a matter of which tree would they get.
Donnie Grant found a 9-foot tall tree that she liked, but her husband, Andre, balked at the height, saying it was too tall. They were looking for something around 7 feet tall, maybe 8 feet at the most.
“You can look around, but this is the one I’m standing next to,” Donnie told Andre and her stepdaughter, Hana.
Eventually, however, they found another tree that was wider and fuller than the others, but it was about 7.5 feet tall. The fullness didn’t matter though.
Once Donnie laid her eyes on the tree, she admitted it was “curvy” but she and Andre didn’t care about that. They knew it was meant to come home with their family, so they bought it.
“I like the fullness of it,” Andre said.
Donnie replied, “Yeah, we have a lot of ornaments we can put on it.”
Families flocked to Thompson’s Tree Farm, which is located at 1829 Prospect Road in Lawrenceville, on Saturday to get their Christmas trees. The farm allows customers to pick out and cut down their own trees — except the Fraser Firs because they don’t grow well in this area and therefore have to be brought in and are pre-cut as a result.
For the families who come out to the farm each year, the experience is a family tradition.
Johns Creek resident Ed Brock came to the farm with his wife, Alphise, and their daughters, Allie and Lilly. The Brocks come to the farm each year to pick out their tree and the process of selecting one isn’t always easy.
The Brock family started out looking at trees in the Murray Cypress section, and there was one they are strongly considering, but they opted to keep looking. Despite eventually making their way back to the Green Giant section, they eventually found their way back to where they began before settling on a tree: an 8.5-foot Murray Cypress.
“It’s kind of a family ritual where it’s a little bit of an adventure to go out and cut your own tree and bring it home,” Ed Brock said. “Then you get to choose what tree you like.”
Thompson’s Tree Farm co-owner Denise Thompson said is the 19th year that the farm has sold trees and she has seen some families who are regular customers grow up over the years.
“I had a family that just left and they’ve been coming here since their kids were 2 years old and they’re now 17,” Thompson said. “I think it’s the fact that (families) make memories, the fact that there’s so much to do. But this family just said ‘We’ve been coming here since they were 2 and now they’re 17. It’s just our tradition.’”
Families who came out to the farm Saturday said they preferred getting live trees because they liked the experience of picking out their own tree and cutting it down.
The Davis family from Decatur often get a live tree every year for Christmas, but they have gone to lots with pre-cut trees in the past. This year, Tyler Davis suggested to her husband, Stefan, they take their kids to Thompson’s Tree Farm and try cutting down their own tree for a change.
As Stefan leaned down to saw the tree they picked out — an 8-foot Murray Cypress — at its base, Tyler tried pushing it to help expedite the process of bringing it down. Cutting it down was not an easy process, however, and Stefan compared it to getting a workout at the gym because of the physical work needed to cut the tree down with a handsaw.
Tyler held their 10-month-old son, Roman, while Stefan cut the tree down and their other son, Ezra, 5, looked on.
“For me, it’s more of the experience of coming out with your family and picking it and stuff like that,” Tyler Davis said about why she liked coming out to get a live tree.
“And now that (Ezra) is older, he can help pick a tree.”
For families who visit the farm, there is more to do there than just picking out and cutting down a tree. The farm also offers hayrides and there’s a gift shop where families can get some holiday gifts. Families can also pose for photo ops located alongside the trees as well.
After Duluth residents Christopher and Jennifer Moody and their children, Anthony, 2, and Lukas, 4 months, picked out their tree and loaded it up on the roof of their car, they headed back into the farm to take a hayride around the property.
This was the Moody family’s first time visiting the farm and they gave it their seal of approval.
“I love the farm atmosphere where it’s close enough to the city,” Jennifer Moody said.
“She grew up in rural North Carolina,” Christopher Moody said.
“So it reminds me of home,” she said.
“And it kind reminds me of growing up in Maryland (where) we did have a few farms around us but it mainly reminds me of Ohio, where I went to college, and all of the farms up there,” Christopher Moody said.
Likewise, this was also the Grant family’s first visit to the tree farm. They moved to the Buford area from Miami earlier this year and this will be the first Christmas for Donnie and Andre’s 4-month old daughter, Arya.
“It’s her first Christmas so we want to make sure it’s perfect, and I think we found the perfect tree,” Donnie Grant said.