"Do You Sell Hot Apple Cider?"


For this story to make any sense, you first need to understand my dad's obsession with experiences. Other than the fact that it was cheaper, I think the reason we always drove and never flew to family vacations was because my dad holds a firm belief that the journey itself is half the fun. He would drive us all over the place looking for that hole-in-the-wall diner as we passed eight chain restaurants and shouted, "We're hungry!" from the backseat. 

In his defense, we ate some delicious meals on family vacations. We'll never know whether or not the diner food was actually delicious or by the time we found it we were just too hungry to care, but the fact is, we made some good memories along the way.

You can, then, understand why, when the seven of us set out to find a Christmas tree on the day after Thanksgiving, my dad immediately scoffed at the idea of going to Lowe's. "That doesn't count," he said, shaking his head in disgust. "We need to find a tree farm and cut down our own tree!"

Our Chicago family had done this many times before, so that in itself wasn't a crazy idea. But this was Texas, not Illinois. And it was 60 degree and sunny, not 20 degrees and snowing.

My dad spent a good hour or two on Thursday night looking for tree farms in the Dallas area and came to the unfortunate conclusion that the closest tree farm was an hour from our house. Apparently North Texas people don't do tree farms. 

We had limited family time on Friday before everyone scattered to their various places of residence, so we took a family vote on whether we'd rather spend the majority of our time in the car driving to and from the tree farm or go to the Lowe's five minutes from our house and spend our time decorating the tree with lights and ornaments.

Six out of seven of us voted for Lowe's.

I'll let you guess which member of the family was left.

"But don't you guys want to go chop down a tree?" my dad said. "AND..." He threw out his ace card. "...we'll have hot apple cider and spiced donuts." Tree farms in Illinois always had the most delicious hot apple cider and spiced donuts.

"I do love apple cider and donuts," I said. I'm easily swayed when there's food involved.

"Don't we have apple juice in the fridge?" my sister said. "Let's just heat up a glass of apple juice in the microwave when we get home."
My dad looked like he'd just eaten something sour. "That is not the same thing!" We all stared at him. "Fine. Just fine. We'll go to Lowe's."

We piled in the car, and by the second turn, we were headed in the opposite direction of Lowe's. My brother leaned forward. "Dad? Where are we going? We're not going to Denton are we?" That's where the closest tree farm was.

"No. We're going to Justin. I think there might be a tree farm there."
My mom had the resigned look of someone who'd been through this act before. "You think there's a tree farm in Justin? Or you know?"
"Well, you know, there should be one in Justin. Let's just see."
"So you're hijacking us," my brother said.

We drove for about fifteen minutes and soon found ourselves in the middle of Texas nowhere. And then, what did we see while barreling down the open road at 60 mph was this sign: BOWMAN'S TREE FARM.

"WOAH!" my dad said and screeched to a halt. "Tree farm!"

We pulled a semi-dangerous u-turn and headed back to the sign. And there it was: BOWMAN'S TREE FARM


We all cheered, and my mom looked at my dad. "How do you always find stuff like this?"

It was gorgeous Texas hill country, rolling green hills and trees filled with orange and yellow and brown leaves. We turned down a gravel road when we saw another Bowman's Tree Farm sign. My dad was nearing giddy with excitement at the thought of finding a hidden Christmas tree farm by accident.

We drove down the road until we came to our final turn. The iron gate was open, and the gravel driveway was lined with cedar trees. Or, I suppose I should say one side of the driveway was lined with cedar trees. 

On the other side, we saw this:

"Oh my gosh it's a nursery!" someone shouted. 

We all burst into laughter. The kind of laughter where people start snorting and crying.

What I can only assume to be the owner of the tree farm had come out of his house, and my dad drove up and leaned out the window. "Do you sell Christmas trees?"

Clearly, no.

"Naw," the man said. He was older, with thin gray hair and wearing overalls and work boots. 

"Well do you know where I could buy one?"
The old man scratched his chin. "Maybe Lowe's?"

At this, we burst into another round of laughter. Then, my brother leaned forward again. "Dad, ask him if he has cider."

My dad said later he almost asked about the cider but couldn't keep a straight face. "Okay," my dad said to the man. "Well we'll just turn around, then." The man stepped back inside, and by this point we were all dying laughing. DYING.

"Christmas. Tree. Farm. FAIL," said my dad between laughs as my mom wiped tears from her eyes.

So we turned around, drove back down the gravel road, and past the sign for Bowman Tree Farm. By this time we were all hungry, so we stopped at a taco shack for lunch. That's how, an hour and a half after we left the house, we found ourselves at Lowe's Garden Center five minutes from our house, picking out a Christmas tree.

We found one we liked, and my brother held it upright while my dad got on the ground and pretended to saw the bottom. Then we counted down and yelled "TIMBER!" and my brother dropped the tree to the floor. We applauded and laughed some more, and an older couple stopped in the aisle to stare at us.

And just in case you thought I was kidding about the whole shouting-timber-in-the-middle-of-Lowe's thing, I have pictures. You're welcome.

The lesson in all this? Bowman's Tree Farm sells baby trees.
You're better off going to Lowe's.

* * *
Does your family do fake or real trees? 
Have you ever gone to a tree farm and chopped down your own Christmas tree?


  1. Haha, you tell a good story! We went to get our tree today. We just started going to the tree farm last year- before that, we had an artificial tree. We live in Alabama: we get hot dogs- not cider- at the farm we visited!

  2. This made me laugh. Y'all are too much fun! We did a real (potted) tree this year and put it on a table so the baby couldn't get it. But I prefer fake trees. Why? Because I already have a sinus headache and burning eyes from handling this live one! I also hate the shedding. And spending money on one every year. So, basically I'm just a huge fake tree lover. ;)

  3. Love it! This will be a memory that you guys will talk about every Christmas. Looks like you had a wonderful time! :)

  4. I grew up going with my family to chop down a Christmas tree--a big thing here in West Michigan. With most of us afflicted with seasonal allergies, we are an artificial tree family now.

    1. I am really glad no one in my family has allergies like that! That we know of...

  5. love the tree pictures!! you are so cute.

  6. hahahaha,,,
    but your dad is right. there's a story, always a story born from things like that. i think your dad and i can be friends. hahaha. i don't celebrate christmas (my family has diversity in religion) but my grandma used to have fake trees. once she had a real one and i was so happy.

  7. This is wonderful and your dad got a wonderful memory out of it either way! My grandpa is very much like that with the driving around while I contemplate how a seatbelt would be for dinner!

  8. This is too funny! I think you're Dad and I could be friends; I'm definitely all about the adventure. However, I prefer fake trees. We did get a real tree one year, and I was so over the sap and pine needles by Christmas. Plus, it was expensive! Although, we could just go traipse through the woods and find one to cut down up here. Maybe some year...

    1. I think my dad could be friends with anyone :) He's the best.

  9. "I'm easily swayed when there's food involved." Haha! Such a fun memory!

  10. Such an entertaining little story! Those have a way of happening around the holidays, and they are usually one of my favorite parts. We are fake tree people, though, round these parts. Except once, a couple years ago, when my mom and brother went out on our farm, found their own tree, and just cut it down. It was gappy and prickly and oddly shaped and we loved it. Haha.

  11. Haha this is hilarious! Such a cute story! Well, in case you're interested I think there is a Christmas tree farm near Lexington and Purcell that also has apple cider. My 4th grade class went there to pick out a tree when I was a kid and I'm pretty sure the apple cider was my favorite part of the whole experience! (My family does fake trees, so that really was a first for me to go pick one out!)

  12. You are a very good story teller! I enjoyed it very much. We have a fake one that we got 5 years ago on Black Friday.

  13. This is such a fun story!! I couldn't stop laughing at the nursery part! Definitely something that won't be forgotten :D

  14. Hahahaha! I'm caught up on my favorite blogs, and this story has made my day! :) I come from a strictly fake/pre-lit tree owning family, but I could see how the tradition of a real tree could be fun! Haha - there aren't many "true" tree farms (where you cut your own) here in TN either. The fun part of this is, even though your family didn't get the "experience" you were going for, you DID have a noteworthy experience this holiday! :)

  15. This is just hilarious. I love your Dad being all about the experience...that sounds like how I might be someday with my kids. Haha. What a funny story you all have to share now. :)

  16. Haha, love this. I've become a bit of an experience person. We used to take this train to a tree farm where we would chop our tree, drink hot cocoa, get candy canes from Santa, and haul our tree back on the train. Nothing beats the smell of a fresh tree. That train no longer runs (at least, that I know of), so its no longer a tradition.

  17. I love your family! Your dad seems especially hilarious…and sweet :) Happenings like these are always awesome bc in years ahead you will all gather and STILL be laughing about the good memory. I think Chad and I are going tree hunting this weekend…hopefully we will find something to make us laugh just as hard as you guys did.

  18. Absolutely hilarious!! And I love your dad for his effort in creating experiences! (I would still be cracking up too if I were you! lol) But--yes! We always went to tree farms when I was little--but we too don't have any nearby! I hate it--but I was at lowe's yesterday getting our tree. haha. And the experience was fun--plus--it is A LOT easier!

  19. Ha, as a Texan I have never had a real tree! We got our plastic one from Lowe's a few years ago, and it's been serving us well. :)

  20. This cracked me up!!! I would like to be an honorary member of your family and get to tag along on these "experience" trips.


  21. hahahaha. I LOVE THIS!

    My parents have always, ALWAYS had a real Christmas tree. There was a man that would take size orders and went to a tree farm in NC to fulfill the orders. Then he'd deliver them, and it was AWESOME. He decided this year would be his last due to his age and health issues. So, my parents resorted to a fake tree without warning.
    I saw the box and exclaimed, 'Why must you ruin Christmas?!"
    They didn't think it was very funny. :P

  22. Okay that is an awesome story you will always remember. Your Dad is too funny! I have always done a real tree but never chopped our own tree.

  23. Hahahaha! This is the best Thanksgiving story ever!!! You win! :-)

  24. What a funny story! Thanks for sharing. We have a 2-foot tall plastic tree that sits on a table. But we keep getting more and more ornaments so we'll have to upgrade to a larger tree soon.

    1. Jordan and I have a 3-ft tall plastic tree too! I'm hoping to upgrade to a big-girl tree when we get a house :)

  25. I'm with your dad! I fight hard for my experiences, too. ;) The best part is that everyone thought it was hilarious when it totally flopped. Well, it didn't totally flop of course, because you got a great story out if it! Our house was in "the Christmas Tree Capital of the World," so the whole thing is a pretty big deal to me, too. I've got to figure out some way of getting a tree on this boat...

  26. This is hilarious--I just read it to my husband this morning and couldn't stop laughing. There were tears. : )

  27. oh my God, adopt me, please.

    Jon's family always goes to a barn/farm/thing with pre-cut trees and his dad has learned, after years of trying to participate in the tree-choosing process, that he doesn't get a say, so he'll stand by the family's chosen tree to reserve it while Jon and his sister and their mum go find an even better tree and then he'll stand by that one to reserve it while they go in search of an EVEN BETTER tree (repeat ad nauseum until they decide to get the original best tree...)

  28. Hahaha I love it! What a hilarious story. Jonathan and I just went to a tree farm last weekend and cut down our own tree; that was my first time doing that! And they had free hot apple cider. :) Glad you got a beautiful tree and a great story out of this!

  29. This is hilarious! I really wish your dad had asked about the cider! I'm literally laughing out loud at my desk right now. Sounds like a fun family!


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