Over the next few weeks Metro’s Workology section will be shining a light on some of the jobs that pop up around the holiday season and dissappear just as quickly afterwards. Check back every Wednesday.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither is the Christmas tree many Canadians will have on display in their homes this holiday season.

Even though it may only take an afternoon to decorate — usually with the help of loved ones, some seasonal music and a couple of glasses of grandpa’s cough syrup — the story behind the tree is something much greater.

In fact, by the time the tree has been dressed up and charged with the duty of keeping gifts warm until Christmas morning, it’s quite likely to have battled the outdoor elements for seven to 12 years.

At Chickadee Christmas Trees in Cambridge, Ont., owner Alison McCrindle says that growing Christmas trees in her part of the world is no easy task. With extreme heat in the summer, unique soil conditions and the possibility of disease that can ruin a year’s crop all in play, growing a Christmas tree may be a little more difficult than you think.

McCrindle’s farm sits on eight acres of land and is capable of growing about 8,000 trees. Every year, she estimates, they sell about 1,000, which means that every year she and her family get out on the farm, dig the holes, plant the seeds and make sure they’re watered and later pruned.

They grow Scotch pines, white spruce, balsam fir and white pine trees, each with different features to cater to customers’ various needs.

“Some people like the Scotch pine because they like the way it smells,” she says. “It reminds people of the traditional Christmas.”

She says, however, that fir trees are becoming more popular because of the longer life span and shorter needles.

Located about 45 minutes from Toronto, the farm sells pre-cut trees or lets people go out and harvest their own. They provide saws and sleds, as well as activities for the kids.

For those who need a little warming up, there is apple cider available to complete the experience.

Some people, of course, think it’s more effective to save themselves the trouble and just buy a fake plastic tree. However, McCrindle is quick to point out the misconceptions many have when making that decision.

“I’m a believer in the real tree,” she says. “Environmentally, it’s a better decision.”

She explained that Christmas trees are crops, and not simply picked from a forest with no regard. Over the seven to 12 years they take to mature, they produce oxygen, while helping the soil. Furthermore, they will never end up in a landfill. Most municipalities now have curb side pickups for used trees, where they are taken, broken down and turned into mulch that can be used for a variety of purposes.

So, there you have it: This symbol of Christmas is much more than a tree-shaped Mr. Dressup. It’s the product of lots of hard work, and it took roughly a decade to perfect.

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