It's something Angie Kirby has been doing since she was a kid in Wyoming. On Saturday, the West Haven mother, her three kids and husband, Clair, were tromping around Butch Robinson's Tree Farm in Morgan County looking for exactly the right tree.
"When I was a girl, we'd just go up in the hills and hike around in the deep, deep snow," she recalled of her parents' annual tree hunt. "Nothing beats the smell of a fresh tree."
Fortunately, on Saturday it was sunny and warm as Clair spotted what he believed to be that special tree. "I'm pretty sure this is the one," he said, sizing up a blue spruce.
"No," Angie said. "How about this one? It's pretty and it's the right shade of green."
The negotiations were on. "In our house, I'm the queen of the tree," Angie explained with a smile.
The Kirbys, including Connor, 12, Colton, 14, and Kylee, 14, have been coming to Robinson's tree farm for several years.
Butch Robinson owns and operates a sawmill just north of Interstate 84 on Old Highway Road. He's the fifth generation of Robinsons who have done their own logging and cut beams for houses, barns, fences and bridges usually for special order. About 25 years ago, Butch's father started the tree farm for a little extra income, and Robinsons have been selling Christmas trees ever since.
Butch hopes to sell 300 to 400 trees this season. They're all priced at $50, no matter the size. Most are 7 feet to 17 feet high. He's had customers come from as far as Las Vegas and Evanston, Wyo., for one of his Christmas trees.
Angie and Clair Kirby were still eyeing the 16-footer that he had selected. Angie laments the year they got the wrong tree. And she's determined that won't happen again.
"It was cold and we were in a hurry," she recalled of the small tree. "I worked really hard to make that tree work. But finally, I gave up and went to the tree lot."
Her kids still make fun of her for that episode, she said. "I cried as I took the ornaments off because I felt sorry for the tree."
The Gudgell clan, too, makes tree cutting a family affair. Brent and Nan Gudgell's children, Liz Sullenger and David Gudgell, are married with kids of their own. The three families 13 people in all met up at Robinson's Tree Farm in search of three perfect Christmas trees.
"It has to be full and it has to be tall," announced 11-year-old Meagan Sullenger.
But her grandmother, Nan Gudgell, knows it doesn't have to be perfectly symmetrical. "It has to have a good shape," she said. "But because it goes up against a window, it can have a flat side."
Cutting his own Christmas tree is a family tradition that Brian Sullenger savors as much as Angie Kirby but for a different reason. He doesn't have fond childhood memories of a family adventure to find, cut and pack home that special tree.
"Growing up I had a fake tree," he said with a little grimace. "That's why we come up here every year. And the kids love it."
Choose and cut Christmas Tree farms
Robinson's Tree Farm, Old Highway Road, Morgan County, 801-876-3190
Meldrum Christmas Tree Farm, 2073 W. Gentile St., Layton, 801-544-1750
Neville Farm Christmas Trees, 1875 W. 1000 South, Layton, 801-544-9401
Beck Christmas Tree Farm, 630 W. 900 South, Alpine, 801-400-2255
North Pole Pines, 2546 W. 3100 North, Farr West, 801-731-6466