The Jones Family Farm is an idyllic 400-acre spot, with literally thousands of Christmas trees to choose from, in the White Hills of Shelton, Connecticut. Established in 1850 as a dairy farm, it wasn’t until after World War II that the Jones family invited friends to chop down their own trees.
By Shawn Callaghan Diaz
The Jones Family Farm is an idyllic 400-acre spot, with literally thousands of Christmas trees to choose from, in the White Hills of Shelton, Connecticut. Established in 1850 as a dairy farm, it wasn’t until after World War II that the Jones family invited friends to chop down their own trees. Everyone had so much fun that the family planted more, and their Christmas tree business began in earnest. The dairy closed in 1996, but in 2004, the sixth generation planted a vineyard and established a winery. They also grow strawberries, blueberries, and pumpkins you can harvest during the year.
Finding the perfect tree for our home is always an adventure. For close to 20 years, our family of five has loaded the car with bungee cords and blankets and made the trip. The newest members of the family, Charlie, our cockapoo, and Shayna’s rescue dog Tipatina, a sweet pit bull/black Lab mix, now join us. Charlie begrudgingly allows us to outfit him in reindeer antlers, and Tip wears the Santa hat.
I remember Christmas carols blaring from cassettes, then CD’s. In recent years, it’s been customized selections on iPhones. Music selection is of critical importance; it’s one less thing to argue about on the ride up.
The only thing that is nonnegotiable is my singing — I am not allowed to, for reasons I still am not in complete agreement with.
This year, trees large or small are priced at $60 — and each comes with a free pewter ornament. We brought home a 10-foot balsam fir. I don’t always win, but this is my tree of choice for swags of garlands and hanging the hundreds of ornaments we’ve collected or made over the years. (One thing we have always agreed upon is that bigger is better.)
The farm also sells already harvested trees and you’re welcome to hike and enjoy panoramic views on Candy Cane Hill. Allow an hour for this pleasure.
We have a very scientific way of measuring. My husband Arnold, who is such a good sport, stands in front with his arms extended out to the side to gauge width. In years past, Alex, our 27-year-old son, held his arms up to judge height, but this year he was in England with his girlfriend, so his sisters, Shayna and Casey, had to pinch hit. We definitely needed our son’s muscle upon our return; it took twice as long to unload it, but we managed.
We have never had a Charlie Brown tree. Some have been larger than others, but there was a year we may have overdone it. The tree was too big for the stand and it fell and pinned me. Not wanting to alarm Casey, who was 2 at the time and thought it quite amusing, I said, “Go get Daddy.” Finally, when the lights were getting a wee bit hot, I screamed for help. We tied that tree to the staircase.
Jones farm provides you with a saw and will bind your selection and help load it onto your car. We tied it down but after it was done we realized we were only able to open one door because we’d tied off the front through the windows. This of course was Alex’s job. Fortunately, we are all pretty nimble.
In years past we have taken advantage of bonfires in various areas of the mountain to warm up, and fresh donuts and hot cider at the base, but this Thanksgiving weekend it was a balmy 60 degrees, so we strolled.
It is often the only weekend we can all be in the same place, but I know our hearts will always be there even when we can’t be.
Our son called from “across the pond” the next day to see how we had managed. We said there had been a little less arguing, but a lot more physical effort in his absence. We all laughed. I hope he likes the tree.