My first memory of the sport of tree hunting is from when I was a bright-eyed 5 year-old, living in Montana. If I remember correctly, my kindergarten teacher’s husband took our class, (eight boys and me), on an excursion and cut trees down for us. They were very small, perfect for the small people we were then. It went in the bedroom I shared with my little sister and made us feel very special that we had a tree in our room.

My first grown-up tree excursion was after I moved to Sioux Falls in 1981. My mom and dad came for a visit. Mom thought it would be nice if I had a tree of my own in my first apartment and I acquiesced, since she was also offering to buy.

I told her about a Christmas tree place I had heard was located in someone’s backyard. They supposedly had great trees and were really nice people. I got directions and we headed out. We got there and indeed it really was a home operation.

That “home operation” grew into “Baumgartner’s Nursery” over the years and is still the destination for Christmas trees. The chilly air, the smell of pine, the tree shaking contraption that vibrates the majority of dead needles out of your tree, stuffing the tree in your trunk with your winter survival kit, battery cables, blankets and extra dog leashes—this is the stuff holiday memories are made of!

I haven’t had a tree for about 5 years now, because of my dogs, but the memories are still very dear to me. Especially the year I was crabbing on the air about not being able to have a tree and missing that “Christmasy” smell. Kevin Baumgartner personally delivered a beautiful wreath to the radio station and I will never forget it.