Real trees, real memories

Getting a real tree for Christmas is a core memory for many families. 

Three people take a selfie in the snow.
John Lester, from left to right, Susan Lester, Max Ryan, and Eva Lester. This was the first time Susan’s son (all bundled up) joined them for the annual trip in the woods. (Submitted photo)

Abby Butler

These days, artificial, pre-lit trees are the go-to for many families. 

But for some, there is nothing like a real tree.

Susan Lester-Ryan is one of the owners of Lester’s farm, along with her parents and two brothers. She says her family has always had a real Christmas tree.

“We’ve always had real trees in our family homes,” said Lester-Ryan. “We would go out and cut them with our dad, and before that, he would go and cut it with his dad.”

She is now 33 and her dad is 70. 

Lester-Ryan now has a 14-month-old son, who joined them in the hunt for a tree for the first-time last year.

“It’s something special, something that you get to say that you went out and you picked and then you cut. So you get to see right from start to finish – you get to decorate it and enjoy it all season long.”

Lester’s Farm started bringing in Christmas trees from small farms in Nova Scotia nearly 20 years ago.

Her family, she says, is always looking for ways to improve their practices on the farm and bring in something new.

It was almost 20 years ago when her brother, Chris, paired up with some farmers in Nova Scotia, and ever since then they have been bringing in real trees each holiday season for area families. 

Trevor March and his son Adam go to Lester’s Farm each year to get a tree for their family home.

Adam, 23, says having a real tree for Christmas has been part of his life ever since he was a child.

It was the same for his father. 

“We always had a real tree until I got older,” said Adam. “And when I left the house, my parents bought an artificial one. But when I got married, my wife’s family (has) a tradition of always going out and cutting a tree ourselves.”

Trevor says the family gets a tree from Lester’s each year because the Nova Scotia Fraser firs are much nicer than the Newfoundland balsam firs.

But their yearly excursion into the woods still remains a tradition.

“It’s more so about the company than what the tree actually looks like,” said Adam.

Dad agrees.

“It’s all about getting out and having a boil up in the woods and stuff like that,” said Trevor. 

Some of the most special memories during Christmas come from the time spent with loved ones enjoying traditions.

For many families, the tradition of having a real tree will always be a top priority. 

“Having these little moments with your family is stuff you’re going to remember your whole life,” said Adam. “So just as well to have a lifetime full of memories rather than wait ‘till your last couple of years and realize you missed out on years of doing stuff.”

Lester-Ryan says for her family, the tree is the heart of the home during the holidays.

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to Christmas trees, she says, but there’s just nothing like a real one. 

“We’re here to, kind of, help those people have the real-tree experience,” said Lester-Ryan.

Abby Butler is a student journalist studying at the College of the North Atlantic. A lover of photography from a young age, she aims to tell her stories as much through photos as she does through writing.

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