400 premium firs shipped in from Quebec this week as well as 500 East Kootenay varietals that include free range alpine

400 premium firs shipped in from Quebec this week as well as 500 East Kootenay varietals that include free range alpine

Tree sales signal countdown to Christmas

Trail Kiwanis recruits Quebec trees for this year’s fundraiser

The Trail Kiwanis Christmas trees have a certain “je ne sais quoi” this year.

After a hot and dry summer in B.C. the King of the Christmas tree varietals –Fraser and Balsam fir – are in short supply across the province this winter.

So the local non-profit was forced to look east to Quebec for this season’s supply of premium tannenbaums – shipping in 400 arbres de Noël (French for Christmas tree), on sale now until Dec. 23 in Butler Park.

“We try to get the best tree available for the best money,” says Brian Pipes, from the Trail Kiwanis.“We don’t have the selection like the past couple of years because the person we’ve been getting five different varieties from has gone out of business,” he said of the Slocan Valley arborist. “Having no irrigation, his trees really took a hit this summer because of the heat.”

The East Kootenay supplier fared better through the drought, and like the past few years, has committed 500 free range alpine and Douglas fir trees for the Trail club to sell.

No matter where the trees come from, Barbara and Arnold Klit have been one of the first in line for years, ready to pick out the perfect fragrant specimen to decorate around mid-December.

“I always liked one six feet or higher so it goes right up to the ceiling,” says Barbara. “We have downsized now that we are in our 80s,” she added. “But no way would I have a plastic tree, tradition will always be a real tree even if it’s only two feet high.”

She says it takes about an hour to choose the family tree as her husband patiently waits by her side.

“I say, ‘oh, I love this one, and oh, I love that one,’”she chuckled. “My husband would pick any one I said would be good, but I think I just love looking at the trees more than anything,” Barbara recalled.

“When we have our tree, we go home happy and the smell really has us starting to think about Christmas.”

Usually around Dec. 15, decorating the couple’s Christmas tree becomes a family affair. Seeing their children, now their grandchildren hanging baubles passed down generation to generation marks the start of Christmas in the Klit home.

But another customary festivity comes at no cost – smiling for the camera.

“It’s a tradition, because when you get older you can look back if you have pictures,” said Barbara.

“And it’s also so the grandkids can remember they helped nan and grandpa put ornaments on the tree. Especially the special ones that were our kids first ornaments.”

Barbara says the timing of putting up a Christmas tree is another important part of the family holiday.

“I’ve seen a few trees up in November,” she explained.

“I think that’s a bit early, then it’s a long stretch until Christmas,” Barbara said. “It wasn’t like that back in our day. We had a shorter time for the anticipation and then we’d be so excited, so I think decorating 10 days before Christmas is reasonable, then you really appreciate it.”

The annual Kiwanis Christmas tree fundraiser officially opens today (Friday) at the East Trail park, and runs Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday until 8 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Money raised helps support over 30 charities and non-profit organizations in Greater Trail, and is dispersed in bursaries to many of the area’s graduating students.

“It is our major fundraiser and we wouldn’t be able to support the community without the Christmas tree sales,” said Pipes, the club’s director. “The money gets passed around and goes to all the charities Kiwanis supports.

“I would go as far as to say that there is not a person or family in this town that has not benefited some way through the donations from Christmas tree sales, whether it is family or friends or someone they know.”

The Kiwanis Club will also have a spot for food hamper donations and Pipes encourages anyone who has a bit extra to bring some food for needy families.