What the HAYnes? Hunting the unconventional tree, scoring the unconventional trophy

The Haynes family tree-hunters Elise Haynes
The Haynes family hunting the unconventional tree, Kaibab National Forest, Ariz., Nov. 25, 2012 | Photo courtesy of Elise Haynes, St. George News

HUMOR: I recently returned from my family’s annual Christmas tree hunting trip into the mountains. This year we were unusually successful in our quest for a normal-looking Christmas tree. And since I am riding a victory high I have decided to share everything I have learned about finding a Christmas tree.

Full disclosure: All of my tree hunting knowledge has been gleaned from holiday cinema classics like “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” – and from years of hunting for unconventional Christmas trees. These are no ordinary tree hunting tips.

My first tip: Do not allow a person who possesses Y chromosomes to select your Christmas tree. Remember on “A Charlie Brown Christmas” when Lucy sent Charlie Brown to select a tree for the Christmas play? She specifically requested a “great, big, shiny aluminum Christmas tree, maybe painted pink.” Seems simple enough, right? Wrong. We all remember what a loveable disaster Charlie Brown’s tree was.

I made Lucy’s mistake last year when our tree-hunting excursion found us in the hills surrounding Pine Valley. On that particular day there was an icy wind blowing and after a few hours of hunting, my four children were tired of wandering the icy desert in search of a tree. We retired to the warmth of the car, where my bag of Hostess Donettes and my Carpenter’s “Christmas Portrait” CD were waiting. I gave my husband carte blanche over the tree selection and sent him back out into the cold. I was a fool.

Dear husband of humorist Elise Haynes spying success in the perfect fit Christmas Tree - What the HAYnes?!
Dear husband of humorist Elise. The perfect fit Christmas Tree – What the HAYnes?! St. George, Utah, Nov. 25, 2012 | Photo by Elise Haynes, St. George News

My dear husband chose a tree that was so tall that he had to cut off the bottom AND the top to fit it in our house. At that point the tree had as much girth as it had height, and we still had to snap it into place like a a charmin’ roll into a toilet paper dispenser to stand it up in the living room.

This brings me to my next tip: Trees appear smaller when you are outside and your only point of reference is a mountain. When a tree is in your living room, surrounded by your recliner and couches and toddlers, you will realize that trees are quite large. Only choose an enormous tree if your plan is to annoy your yuppie neighbors like Clark Griswold did in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” If you are like me, and you delight in annoying yuppies, the bigger the tree, the better. And you must not forget the 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights.

The pinion pines found in the desert surrounding St. George have served as amusing Christmas trees in the past, but after last year’s girthy-tree fiasco my husband offered to let me choose our tree this year. And so … this year … my family drove to Kaibab National Forest for our Christmas tree.

One benefit of crossing the border for a tree is that, unlike in Utah, the blue spruce is not the Arizona state tree. Apparently it is frowned upon to saw down our state trees in the name of making your yuletide gay. This significantly reduces the number of Christmas tree options in Utah. However, there is a huge selection of Christmas-looking trees in Kaibab National Forest.

The last bag of Hostess Donettes in the world found at Jacob's Lake Lodge in Kaibab
The last bag. Hunter’s Trophy. Jacob’s Lake Lodge. Kaibab

There also used to be one of the world’s last remaining bags of Hostess Donettes at the Jacob’s Lake Lodge convenience store. Until I got there.

Which brings me to my last tip: If retrospect tells you that a bag of Donettes was your hunter’s trophy, then you might reconsider your quest; for a conventional “will-do” tree, there is – always there is – Wal-Mart – which might offer a “will-do” Hostess Donette knock-off as well.

Happy Hunting!


For those ready to brave the forests and hunt down that perfect tree, everything you need to know here:



Elise Haynes chronicles family life in her blog Haynes Family Yard Sale. Any opinions stated in this column are her own and not necessarily those of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.


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