Christmas Tree from the National Forest

This year we went and cut down our own Christmas tree. It has been years since we had a live tree, and we have never cut our own, so this was a special adventure for all of us.

This was also the first year that we learned about the possibility of cutting a Christmas tree from a National Forest. Emelie is in fourth grade this year (as much as she is in any grade as a homeschooler) so she qualifies for the Every Kid in a Park program from the National Park Service. This program grants fourth graders a NPS annual pass. The program also entitles her to a free Christmas tree permit from a National Forest. After a little bit of investigating, we found that most national forests have an area or two designated for cutting Christmas trees.

4th grade pass

I called the ranger station at Ocala National Forest in Florida, which is about an hour’s drive from where we’re spending Christmas this year. The ranger confirmed that they participate in the Every Kid program and also informed me that if we wanted more than one tree, the additional permit would be $7. We still can’t believe how inexpensive it is to cut your own Christmas tree! The cost of a permit varies in different national forests, but we suspect that we have just started a new Christmas tradition, with or without the free permit.

Together with another family, we grabbed a saw and headed to Ocala. On the Friday afternoon before Christmas, working her last shift before vacation, the woman working the counter was less than enthusiastic about 9 people walking in for a Christmas tree permit. But before long, permit in hand, we were heading into the forest to the Christmas tree area.

Forest Service tree permit

It poured down rain for the first part of our tree hunt, which added to the adventure. In the end, we chose a sand pine that is approximately 15 feet tall. It is several feet taller than our camper. All three kids got a chance to use the saw, but Peter was the most patient and did most of the work. Since all stores in central Florida seemed to have sold out of tree stands, we dug a hole in our campsite and “planted” it. A few extra strings of outdoor lights and we were sharing our tree with all the families we are camping with this Christmas.

toddler and saw
We forgot the good camera and Micah’s jacket. So these pictures are taken in the rain with my phone. And Micah is wearing Emelie’s raincoat like a dress.
girl with saw
Emelie’s turn!
boy with saw
Peter worked hard and got a pretty good technique going with the saw. He did most of the work and was very pleased with himself!
The final result…

Inside, we still had our small, artificial table-top tree where we could hang our favorite ornaments.

small space Christmas decorations

On Christmas Eve, we enjoyed some of our favorite Swedish Christmas traditions, eating rice porridge and watching the beloved Disney Christmas special. Our cozy family time continued on Christmas morning with presents and stockings and a crazy wrapping paper battle. In true Florida fashion, the kids spent the afternoon in the pool before we gathered with our “Tribe” of traveling families for an outdoor potluck dinner and games.

Today, as we rest, recover from all the festivities, and build Lego for hours, we send our slightly belated Christmas greetings to friends near and far. Whether you are sitting in the sunshine drinking iced tea, as I am right now, or you are cuddling in a blanket drinking hot chocolate and watching the snow fall, we are thankful for everyone who is a part of our adventures and for those who follow (with great patience) our adventures here.

From all of us to all of you, a very Merry Christmas!

kids and Christmas tree

Read more about how we celebrate Christmas in our RV in this Holidays on the Road guest post I wrote over at Wonder Wherever We Wander.

6 thoughts on “Christmas Tree from the National Forest

  1. I would never have known you could get a tree so inexpensively! Looks like you had a great holiday on the road. Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

    1. It’s a game changer for sure! When we discovered this we knew we needed to pass it on because I think very few people know about it. We wanted to test it out first, but it is definitely going to be on our radar for next year too! Merry Christmas! =>>>>

  2. A fine Christmas adventure and I love the photo of the kids. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all the Lindstroms.


    1. No surprise that the Lindstroms have to make everything an adventure, even getting a Christmas tree. Merry Christmas to you too!

  3. Så roligt läsa hur ni ordnar med julen o får det så fint. Här har vi “lagom” vinterväder o inne är det skönt. Har mest varit hemma o tagit en liten sparktur emellanåt. “Han kommer till vår frälsning sänd och nådens sol av Honom tänd ska sig ej mera dölja”! Nu önskar jag er ett bra 2019! Kerstin

    1. Gott nytt år Kerstin! Här sitter jag med datorn ute – ca 25 grader med sol – och Sveriges vinter känns väldigt långt bort. Att fixa fint till jul kan bli lite klurig men vi är väldigt nöjda med hur det blev i år. Tror vi har hittat några nya traditioner. Allt gott för 2019 önskar vi dig! /CL

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