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A Very Special Christmas Tree

We live in a throwaway society. We are so quick to use and toss things daily, filling up our waste bins, trash cans and landfills.

Think about Christmas Day. Your trash was probably overflowing after you chucked all the holiday gift wrap, boxes, food containers, etc.


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The Joaquins’ decorated tree

But there’s one thing that’s tough to part with, at least for me: our Christmas tree.

Yes, Santa’s long gone and the twinkling of lights have overstayed their welcome, but the time has come to take down the tinsel and put our beloved tree curbside.

Or, to be more precise, chop it into pieces so we can somehow squeeze it into our green waste bin. Or, if that’s a lost cause, drop it off at the City’s Convenience Center.

None of those options feels right … yet.

Maybe I’m more attached this year because it was the first time we’ve picked out ours at Helemano Tree Farms. We headed out to Whitmore Village one Saturday, in search of our dream tree. It was our “Griswald moment,” minus the comedic act of chopping down a clearly too big Christmas centerpiece on our own and strapping it to our station wagon.

For one, we don’t have a station wagon. We had our pickup truck. And, it was hardly do-it-yourself. We simply pointed to the tree we liked, the Helemano crew went up on a lift, sawed it down, hauled it to our truck via golf cart and we were on our merry way.

Billed as “Locally grown, pick your own,” the farm was started in 2002 as a retirement project of the late Hawaii agriculture executive Mike O’Brien. He wanted Oahu families to experience the same tradition he did as a young boy every Christmas on the Mainland.

His last project was a labor of love, planting thousands of Norfolk pine trees in Whit-more Village in 2002 with his son Aaron. Mike didn’t live to see families choose their trees at the farm, but his own family keeps the tradition alive in Mike’s memory.

For the past few years, we’ve bought a Douglas fir from lots in town. My son has been a one-man selection committee, but this year was different. On top of buying a Norfolk pine from Helemano, his little sister had a vote, too. (Actually, he wanted her to get her own tree and we had to negotiate a little, but it’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

It was a special experience that the kids will never forget. They stared in awe as the crew cut our tree high up so a new tree will grow from the stump.

I suppose there’s a season for everything. Sometimes I just wish we could hold on a little longer.

For more information, visit helemanofarms.com.