Aside, maybe, from the good folks who run Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in the state who’s more immersed in the season (occupation-wise) than Michigan Christmas tree growers. While the rest of the Mitten packs away its holiday threads by January, Christmas tree growers stay rooted to evergreens year-round for good reason (page 16).
“I love what I do,” says Sigmond Zielinski, owner of Hagen Nursery and Christmas Tree Farm in Muskegon (farmers-care.com). “I have a hand in making the holidays special — it doesn’t get any better than a home bursting with the fragrance of a real Christmas tree.”
That love has become legacy at many family-owned nurseries across the state including Arend Tree Farms, founded in 1939 (arendtreefarms.com). A U of M forestry student questioning the low quality of imported Christmas trees at the time, John Arend planted several thousand White Spruce seedlings on his father’s farm in Saline. He and his dad began selling holiday-ready trees seven years later, then expanded in both variety and production at two new sites between Jackson and Ann Arbor and near Brooklyn during the 1950s.
By the early ’80s — a few years after John’s son, Lee, had become a full-time part of the family biz — the nation was nurturing its own deep-seeded traditions of cutting down a fresh Christmas tree. And although artificial branches have since well arisen as a popular alternative, traditions of “keeping it real” during the holidays are still being upheld full-time at Arend Tree Farms by Lee along with members of the family’s third generation, his grown children Anna and Joe.
Stories of such deep ties and tradition are the inspiration for the theme of this Winter edition (no better expressed than on page 28 by Michigan author Mardi Jo Link) and you’ll find throughout these pages an array of ways families and friends can really immerse themselves in this coming holiday season, as well as enjoy the frosty days that follow.
Venture to the state’s Southeast side and celebrate two or a few wintry dates in one of the Motor City’s three rejuvenated districts (page 40) or embark on a snowy trail with your best gal pals to a promised land of chocolate treats and sweet camaraderie (page 34). Choose a special gift crafted in the Mitten to thank holiday hosts (page 18) or present them with a vibrant Michigan-grown poinsettia (page 24), or peruse the bounty of places offering unique ways to experience this special time of year with those special to you (page 66).
Whether you’re planting new traditions or celebrating family legacies of your own, Michigan BLUE Magazine wishes you a truly happy holiday season.