Nesbit’s Merry Christmas Tree Farm Set to Commemorate a Special 2017
It’s as inviting as the first few words on the website: “Cherished Christmas Memories are waiting for you.” And upon individuals, couples and families stepping foot on the grounds of the Merry Christmas Tree Farm in Nesbit, it’s practically a done deal according to Sharon Hawkins, who is officially one of Norma Jean’s Girls. (More on that to come).
“We always say it’s magical, because the kids come out and they’re adorned in their little matching outfits,” Hawkins said. “They’re so excited. They’re just giggling and they’re smiling – everybody’s in a good mood. It’s a glorious time.”
Opened by Mullins and Norma Doles in the mid-90’s, the 40 acres at 1890 Getwell Road was inhabited by creatures that were oftentimes more brown than green.
“At first, my mom and dad had cattle,” said Hawkins, “and they thought that would be their retirement. They found out that the cows kept getting out and it was a real problem. So then they decided to change to something that can’t be mobile. They started looking at agricultural trees, because the only way they’re going to leave the property is that somebody intended for them to be cut and tied onto a vehicle.”
Mullins says he plants about 600 Leyland Cypress trees a year.
“If the customer will maintain the water properly,” he said, “the Leyland Cypress will be the longest lasting of all trees. Not just weeks, months. And they don’t drop needles.”
Another option is Fraser Firs, shipped in from North Carolina.
“What’s really cute is if they decide they want a pre-cut tree, they still like to take the hayride on the tractor and fellowship with each other,” Hawkins said.
The aroma of free coffee and hot apple cider factor into the other seemingly mandatory stop at the Merry Christmas Tree Farm – the gift shop. There, Hawkins and her daughter, Amanda, operate the small building full of ornaments and Christmas décor, which was Norma’s pride and joy. The family will celebrate this holiday season without its matriarch, who passed away in August.
“We’ll honor her legacy,” said Hawkins. “The handmade wreaths that she used to do – we’ll do the same thing with the inventory. My mom always wanted a lot of variety. Some traditional, some whimsical. Always wanted it to be something different – not just something you could find anywhere. All the women she raised in the family: We call ourselves Norma Jean’s girls. We model ourselves after her character, hard work and commitment. She loved people. She loved children.”
The 2017 tree-picking experience begins the weekend before Thanksgiving (Nov. 18-19). Another banner day is 2 o’clock on Thanksgiving.
Said Hawkins: “That’s a big traditional day for families. They like to eat turkey dinner and them come out to the tree farm. They’ve got relatives from out-of-town. That’s something they look forward to on Thanksgiving.”
Chris Van Tuyl is a DeSoto County resident and former newspaper journalist who enjoys the company of his wife and pets, and watching sports.