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A very old-fashioned holiday at St. Mick’s

KINGSTON — A wall of pictures in the barn at St. Mick’s Tree Farm, showing families and couples holding their fresh-cut Christmas trees from last year, tells the simple philosophy of the family-owned business on Hansville Road.

“It’s meant to be a family thing, not a quick-stop shop,” said Elda Armstrong, who owns the 20-acre tree farm with her husband Herb.

The couple, along with two generations of younger Armstrongs, have been helping visitors pick just the right holiday arbor in a very country setting for more than 20 years.

“It’s kind of fun — there’s no phones ringing,” Elda said.

“We did the snow just for effect,” Herb said in jest, referring to the snow fall North Kitsap received last week, briefly giving the area the look of a winter wonderland.

Trees to choose from include firs such as grand, noble, shasta, and Douglas, as well as a few simple-looking Abies concolor. They have many grand firs in their “Grand Forest,” on the backside of the property, and are considering making special deals to thin out the forest, Herb said.

“This is fresh because it’s not cut until they get here,” Elda said of the advantage of visiting a tree farm. “And you get to stand in the snow and talk to the dogs.”

The farm’s two dogs, Micki and Suzi, greet visitors as if they have known them for years — Suzi often begs for a stick to be thrown for her to fetch and Micki will mosey up to your feet and sit on them to keep them warm, of course, in exchange for a good scratch behind the ears.

Elda provides the requisite hot chocolate, cider and candy canes for everyone as well, as part of the spirit in making the experience feel as down home as possible.

Aside from selling trees, Elda also makes her own wreaths, using branches cut from trees on the property, as well as scotchbroom, salal, huckleberry, redwood, regular and variegated holly and other prunings from her yard for decor.

While other farms tend to purchase pre-made wreaths to sell, Armstrong said she prefers to make hers from scratch. She starts at Thanksgiving and said they will stay fresh throughout the season. She recommends keeping them outside in the cool air but if they are placed inside, she recommends owners spray water on the wreaths to keep them fresh.

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