A Cut of Holiday Spirit

It's a cherished Christmas memory for many here in Houston, picking and cutting down a Christmas tree and then hauling it home to be decorated together with family. It's also a tradition that's starting to fade a bit, with only a handful of Christmas tree farms left in Houston. As Jack Williams reports, one of those farms in spring is still growing Christmas cheer.
image of Christmas tree farm"Deck the Halls......"

"Is this your first time here?"

"It is."

"Are you all cutting a tree?"

"Yes"


"This is your instructions on how to care for a tree..."

On the old Prause Farm, 40-acres of Virginia Pine and Leyland Cypress trees are about to become Christmas trees. The farm is packed with families, ready to hop-onto a wagon and head-out to pick the perfect one.

"We used to buy the fake trees at Wal-Mart when I was a kid. We never had a real tree, so this is a lot more fun for the kids."

Brian Thompson and his wife Laura are with their two young daughters, with a measuring stick and a saw, ready to find their tree.

"When we told them they could cut down their own tree, they went crazy. They love this. They love coming out to the patch here and cutting down the tree is fun for them and fun for their mom too."

"I'm going to cut the top off to put the angel on."


"Hey daddy, I can't get under there."

image of three kids under a treeOut in the tree patch, Charles Clare, his wife Brandy and three kids have found what they're looking for. It's a Virginia Pine, about 7-feet tall.

"It's the family time I think, that you get to bond with the family. It's not mom and dad setting up a fake tree because they don't know exactly how to do it. The kids get to pick the tree out and they get to saw it together. It's the family time I think."

"Here we go. Are you ready?"

Down the way a bit, Jason Benater and his wife and children have made some progress in their search for a tree. He never did this as a kid.

"I'm originally from South Africa and we didn't have this luxury of doing this over there so it's kind of special. We live in Louisiana for a couple of years and we started doing it there and were fortunate when we moved over here we had a place pretty close to us that does the same thing."

"It's going to fall, it's going to fall, it's going to fall."

"It's a family-oriented thing. You bring the kids out and build tradition with their families."

Damian Prause and his wife own the farm, originally bought by her great grandfather in 1907. They started growing Christmas trees in 1992.

"There's not a lot of places you can go and spend half a day with your family and together be involved in choosing the centerpiece for the holiday."

"This is a process. It's a shaking machine that cleans the needles out of the tree."

Prause says there used to be dozens of Christmas tree farms in Houston. Now, only a handful.

"I don't understand the trend, why the farms are in decline. But it's a lot of work and I suspect that a lot of people just don't want to put that kind of work in. A lot of the growers are older and they're retiring and the numbers of the farms in the Houston area are in decline."

Prause says it takes about 4-years to grow a Christmas tree. He expects to sell up to 5000 this season, with thousands more growing, ready to make Christmas memories next year.

image of Christmas tree farm
Bio photo of Jack Williams

Jack Williams

Director of News Programming

News Director Jack Williams has been with Houston Public Radio since August of 2000. He's also a reporter and anchor for Houston Public Radio's local All Things Considered segments...