Every year, for the past 17+ years, we have made a trip to Lithonia for the specific purpose of exploring a hillside covered in Leyland Cypress, Virginia Pine, and Blue Spruce Christmas trees, trying to make the difficult decision as to which one would be the *absolute* best tree for our family. 🙂
We don’t know exactly what year we started coming to Farmer Red’s, but we have a photo of our now 16yo daughter, Rebekah, as a 3mo infant, being carried in my arms, as we walked through the fields, trying unsuccessfully to keep up with her older brothers and sister as they raced across the hillsides to reach the far fenceline and then down to the creek. So, we know from that photo that we were definitely here in 1990 and probably several years before.
Last year, when we arrived and greeted Farmer Carl “Red” Moore for our annual visit, we were dismayed to hear that this year (2006) might be the last, due to a heart attack and the amount of hard work it entails to keep a tree farm like this in operation. So, today, as we again made our way to the tree farm, we couldn’t help remembering days gone by.
The tree farm actually sits in a valley just off Highway 124, a busy major thoroughfare from Snellville to Stonecrest Mall. If you didn’t know where to look, you wouldn’t have a clue of the beauty to be found there.
When we first began coming to Farmer Red’s, the hillsides and bottomland of the valley was planted in row upon row of seedlings. All you could see from the top of the valley where the road ends and you park your car were fields of young evergreen trees. Our three oldest children would jump from the car and charge down the hill, racing to see who could reach the far side of the valley first. David and I couldn’t possibly keep up with them, but we trusted that as long as we could hear their shouts, we knew that they were okay, running in and out of the trees. 🙂
This year, our oldest son, Matthew, who lives in Tennessee was unable to stay long enough to go “tree-hunting” with us over Thanksgiving. Our second son, Timothy, elected to stay home. Instead, our daughters, Rebekah, Sara, and Faith all went with David and I to find our special tree for this year.
As I looked down the hill at their smiles, I reflected that we have a heritage in these fields, not only of Christmas trees, but family and love as well. While this may indeed be the final year for Farmer Red’s, I think these fields will always ring with the shouts and laughter of many children, many families that chose to escape and take time away from the rush and bustle of metro Atlanta’s busy lifestyles to just spend time outside as a family.
As we thanked Farmer Red for all the years we’ve enjoyed his farm, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of bittersweetness. This lovely gentleman has provided joy and happiness for so many families over the years and doesn’t really want to stop, but his health and his family are all steering him to slow down. This valley has grown beautiful trees over the years that have created beautiful memories of holidays past. My girls, now 24, 16, and 11, don’t know of any other way to find a Christmas tree.
A trip to Farmer Red’s has always signaled the beginning of our Christmas celebrations. I guess we’ll have to start a new tradition next year. But if you’re wanting to have some of our same kind of fun this year, don’t hesitate to drive out Highway 124 (Turner Hill Road) from Interstate 20 East just north of Lithonia and watch for the big sign on the right side of the road after you cross the railroad tracks. After you turn right, you’ll think you’re really way out in the country and wonder if you’ve missed another turn somewhere. Then you’ll come around the curve in the road and see the valley dropping out before you with a sweeping vista in the distance of tall pines, cypress, and spruce, some 30 – 40 feet high, that were never bought years ago, and this year’s crop of Christmas trees right there in front at the edge of the road. Don’t just stop there at this year’s trees. Keep going down the hill and further out across the fields. I think you’ll probably hear the shrieks, giggles, and laughter of generations of families there.
Thank you, Farmer Red and the Moore family, for the beautiful memories.