Emmy Claire’s grandfather, Rodney Robinson, knelt down with saw in hand to cut down Emmy’s first Christmas tree at the Munford Christmas tree farm, Westwood Plantations.
A photojournalist for The Anniston Star recorded the event, just as was done 20 years ago when the Robinson’s brought Emmy Claire’s dad, then 4-year-old Brandon, and his brothers, 6-year-old Chase and 11-year-old Rod, to a Christmas tree farm in Eastaboga.
The newspaper clipping shows Rodney Robinson, bent down with saw in hand, looking for a tree to chop down for his young boys.
“Finding the right tree to capture the mood of a family Christmas is no easy chore,” read the caption underneath the photos.
Brandon and Amanda Robinson, of Jacksonville, said it’s always been a family tradition to cut down a live tree. Now they’re keeping the tradition alive for their daughter.
The entire Robinson clan came to the farm Saturday to see Emmy Claire’s first Christmas tree get strapped in back of the family truck. Years ago — on that other trip – it was the family jeep that brought their tree home.
“We unloaded out of that orange jeep, and the guy was like ‘I’m from The Anniston Star,’” said Patricia Robinson, Emmy’s grandmother.
“If I’d have known this I would have driven the jeep,” Rodney Robinson said. “I’ve still got it.”
Witnessing cherished family moments like the Robinsons' is something the owners of the tree farm said happens often. It makes the job a special one, explained Dianne West, who runs the farm with her husband, Rick, and son-in-law, Mark Gentry.
The two weekends after Thanksgiving are typically the busiest at the farm, West said, while arranging loose tree branches into wreaths, which she sells.
“The people are always happy. They’re in a good mood,” she said.
Parents with newborns like Emmy typically come with lots of family and take tons of photos, West said. So do newlyweds, out looking for their first tree as a couple, she said.
“It gets to be a pretty exciting moment,” said Rick West, standing at the edge of a field of green, neatly-cropped Christmas trees.
It’s a rare thing to be in a bad mood while shopping for a Christmas tree, West explained.
“Sometimes one of them sneaks in here but they don’t stay long,” he said with a laugh.
The family planted their first trees about 16 years ago. This year is the sixth the farm has been open for business. It takes about that long for the trees to mature enough to sell, he said.
Rick West said the farm had a bad go of it last year. A fungus called Seiridium canker attacked his trees, taking out a few hundred of the 6,000 or so on the farm.
“Within a week they were all brown,” he said.
Pointing out into a field of green, healthy-looking Leland and Murray cypress, red cedars and Carolina Sapphires, West explained how things changed for the better this year.
“Look what God’s done,” he said.
For pricing information, directions and hours of operation visit the farm’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/wwwwestwoodplantationschristmastrees.
Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.