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Just in the nick of time: Christmas trees bring joy

Friday was the first day of the season for many Christmas tree farms in the region, but several reported receiving requests from customers before they even opened their fields to come and cut down their trees.

"We've had people here since Nov. 1 wanting to buy trees," said Deidre Lane, whose family owns Lane's Grove Christmas Tree Farm in Waterford. "We don't sell them that early because the trees won't last until Christmas."

The farm allows visitors to come early to tag the trees they want and then come back later to cut them down. The interest has been greater this year than in the past, Lane said, including a lot of new customers. The farm was steady with business throughout the day Friday.

"I think people just need the joy," Lane said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic, which has upended people's lives for the past eight months.

Area farms are adhering to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection, requiring visitors to wear masks and social distance. In some cases, they've added plexiglass barriers at checkout counters and instituted measures to reduce lines and crowds around their properties.

Employees at Yetter Road Christmas Tree Farm in Mystic received many calls last weekend from customers wanting to know if they were open yet. The farm usually opens for the season the day after Thanksgiving, but had a soft opening earlier this week to allow people to get pre-cut trees and to tag the trees they want to cut down in an effort to help spread people out.

Katie Quinlan, an employee at the farm, said it's been nice to see how happy and joyful the customers are.

"It definitely helps with what everyone's been going through," she said. "It's something to be grateful for."

Maria Gaudette, who owns The Fir Patch Farm in Salem with her husband, Phil, said she's also felt excitement among her customers. The farm, which is only 4 years old and smaller than many others in the area, opened Nov. 13.

"It's just nice to be outside and brush against the Christmas trees and smell the scent," Gaudette said. "These are fir trees so they smell like Christmas."

Twenty-nine-year-old Octavia Jenkins usually puts up her tree early and this year was no different.

"There's something about Christmas that's so joyful," she said. "Right now with the pandemic, we're going into the second wave, we're bracing ourselves, it's kind of an escape when you light the Christmas tree at the end of night. You kind of forget. It's just magical."

Jenkins said she's started lighting her tree during the day, too. This year, she also decided to decorated her front door, which is now covered with garland, huge red and green lightbulbs, and a "Happy Holidays" mat at the doorstep.

Usually, Jenkins, who lives with her fiancé in Groton, said it takes her several days to decorate her tree. This year, she and her fiancé had more time on their hands.

"I guess that's the blessing of pandemic. We've never had the chance to slow down. We never had the time to do it the two of us, but this year we did it together," she said.

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