McALLEN — What makes the perfect Christmas tree? Is it its tremendous height or the way its branches grow and stretch out symmetrically? Or is it the love and care that families who gather around the holidays put in as they decorate their Christmas tree together?
Jim Connor, who’s been selling Christmas trees for about 30 years — 25 of them from the corner of E. Nolana Avenue and N. McColl Road in McAllen — says as long as he likes the way it looks, then other people tend to like them too.
“I try to get the best of the best,” Connor said. “I go to the field and look at them myself every year. I spend two weeks in Oregon and a week in North Carolina every year.”
Connor picks out about 3,000 trees every year and has his trucks from his produce company, Farmers Select, pick them up and deliver them to the Rio Grande Valley.
He produces a variety of trees, such as the Nordmann fir, Noble fir and Fraser fir, which are some of the top of the line trees, according to Connor, but he also provides the more affordable Douglas fir.
“Douglas loses its needles, but we try to bring them in real fresh so they’ll last,” Connor said.
His packed tent gives off a strong scent of pines and gives a forest feel to visitors.
And though the scent may be foreign to the Valley it’s enough to bring out the Christmas spirit in any Valley resident.
One customer, 24-year-old Logan McCutchen from Mercedes, said his ideal Christmas tree had to be “spaced out right, all the way to the bottom layer.”
Another customer, 30-year-old Ruby Torres of Edinburg, couldn’t describe her perfect Christmas tree. Instead, she said, decorating the tree with her kids was more important to her and her family.
“I’ve bought Christmas trees before for my kids but they’re so picky about decorating,” Torres laughed. “So we have different themes.”
Torres said she had a cotton candy theme last year. She added candy canes, snowmen and wrapped cotton candy around her Christmas tree, which she had flocked red and white.
Flocking is a service Connor’s business offers. It’s a process in which tiny fibers are attached to the tree branches to create texture. It’s usually white to make it look like snow, but not always.
And it serves a double-purpose.
“It’s a fire-retardant powder mixed with water,” one worker, 28-year-old Ryan Marquez, said. “It looks white, we add color, and it’s child safe.”
Marquez, who’s been selling trees with Connor for about nine years, says the busiest time of year for them is actually Thanksgiving and Black Friday. He said people love to eat turkey and then come buy a Christmas tree.
Connor said they sell out every year, usually by Dec. 2 or 3, but Marquez added that he believes they’ll be sold out before then this year.
So, if one is looking to purchase a beautiful Christmas tree this year, they’d better head over quickly before they find themselves trapped in the inevitable turkey coma.
To see more, view Monitor photojournalist Joel Martinez’s photo gallery here: