When I was a little girl growing up in southern Arkansas, I would go with my Daddy and we'd tromp off through the woods in the rural area where we lived to cut a cedar tree for Christmas. Looking back on it, I'm sure I must have taxed his patience while trying to decide exactly which tree I wanted. Cedar trees were plenteous and we could usually find a nicely shaped one.
Alas, though, we gave up that custom many years ago and started buying our Christmas trees from one of the local stores that carry them. I recall one year when it was very hectic and none of the kids were going to be home that we neglected to go buy one until the weekend before Christmas. Do you know if you wait that late to get a tree, you can find some great deals! I can't remember exactly how much the tree cost us that year, but it was a heck of a deal! Granted it was not at the peak of freshness, but it had a good shape and was pretty once we got it decorated.
The last few years we have gone to various Christmas tree farms in the surrounding area to get our tree. This year we went to "Santa's Forest" near Ponca City, OK. It was a fun experience. There was hot apple cider and hot chocolate to drink and we greatly enjoyed visiting with the owners. The tree turned out lovely after it was decorated.
Also, this year for the first time, I made "luminaries" for our front porch. Here is a picture of them.
All you need to make these are some white paper bags, sand and votive candles. Put about half an inch to an inch of sand in the bottom of the sack. Light a votive candle and carefully place it in the middle of the bag. Oddly enough, the bags do not catch on fire. I lit the luminaries for 4 nights before Christmas, ending on Christmas Eve, for about 3-4 hours each night. I had to replace the candles once.
The luminaries were beautiful, soft and peaceful, and evoked a quiet joy in my soul. We've never been ones to decorate much outside at Christmas time. But, this is definitely a tradition that I plan to continue.