Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Finding a Charlie Brown Christmas tree in Faribault December 10, 2020

Our family Christmas tree always sat on the end of the kitchen table, as shown in this Christmas 1964 photo. That’s me in the red jumper with four of my five siblings.

EACH DECEMBER, I FIND myself on a quest for a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. I like my tree small, shaped by nature and reminiscent of the Christmas trees of my youth. Those tinseled childhood trees sat on the end of the Formica kitchen table in our cramped southwestern Minnesota farmhouse.

Even though I live in a house with more room, although small by today’s standards, I still want a basic short-needled Charlie Brown tree. Such a tree brings back many happy holiday memories.

Some of the trees available at Ken’s Christmas Trees.

I’ve found a source for such a tree here in Faribault, my go-to spot for the past several Christmases, although last year I didn’t get a tree. It had been a challenging year and I just did not feel up to holiday decorating.

But this year is different. This year I want, need, the joy of Christmas decorations filling my house. With lights. Tinsel. Candle angels and Santas and a snowman that I’ve had for decades. A wooden stable handcrafted by my maternal grandpa along with figurines cast in plaster of Paris. Plastic nativities gifted to me by Sunday School teachers more than 50 years ago. The scent of pine.

Ken’s Christmas Trees, located behind Taco John’s.

This is the stuff of Christmas in my house. All of these are meaningful, connected to places, people, experiences. Joy. The Charlie Brown tree I found at Ken’s Christmas Trees (formerly Kuntze Christmas Tree Lot now at a new location and with a new name, but still operated by the Mueller family) makes my heart happy.

Randy and I bought our tree earlier than usual this year. I figured Ken’s would have a run on trees given three local businesses that once sold trees are either out of business or no longer selling them. It seems my decision to buy early was a smart one. As we pulled into Ken’s new location, sandwiched in a lot between Taco John’s and a house just off Minnesota State Highway 21/Rice County Road 48 near its intersection with Highway 60, others were arriving to purchase trees in a steady stream.

Ken’s features Charlie Brown trees.

“I need a Charlie Brown tree,” I announced to Ken’s son, TJ, upon greeting him. He assured me that’s all they had.

Tools of the Christmas tree trade and also the table for sawing the ends of trunks.

I’m not all that particular about our tree—although Randy may disagree—so we quickly chose a tree. I noticed that Ken’s inventory differed from previous years with long and lean trees. I prefer mine shorter rather than tall and pencil thin.

TJ fastens our tree for the short drive across town.

No matter, these trees are proving popular. Not only with the locals, but with folks from the Twin Cities metro who are driving to Faribault to buy these old-fashioned Charlie Brown style Christmas trees. I overheard TJ telling a customer that.

Our tree, cut and ready to take inside the house after Randy sawed the trunk.

He’s a friendly young man, just like his dad. TJ offered to saw the end of the trunk for optimal water uptake. Randy opted out. And then he secured the tree to the top of our van, asking how far we were traveling to assure the tree stayed put. With that done, TJ thanked us and added, “God bless you folks.”

The tree in a corner of our living room, awaiting a Christmas tree skirt and decorating.

I left feeling grateful for my Charlie Brown Christmas tree and for the wonderful experience of buying local from a family that exudes joy.

Signage and a rustic tree (which I love) mark the entrance to Ken’s Christmas Tree lot.

TELL ME: Do you buy a real Christmas tree? If so, what’s your source and what type of tree do you purchase?

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


20 Responses to “Finding a Charlie Brown Christmas tree in Faribault”

  1. Missy’s Crafty Mess Says:

    There is something so whimsical and charming about small trees. We haven’t put a tree up the last several years because our critters are so destructive! I do have a wood tree made of birch branches that hangs on the wall.

  2. Leanne K Steffens Says:

    My son ,daughter in law and 2 grandaughters 15 and 11,headed to our annual Rum River tree farm on Sun Nov 22nd…..we stopped at a Kwick Pick for treats for our journey……spent 2 hours in the forest of Fraser Firs looking for the right trees to cut and drag back to the truck. We both got the perfect trees for our homes….they have 2 cats that have potential to climb into the tree and a yellow lab whose big bed will be moved to another space and replaced with the tree.I have a new rescue dog that is afraid of everything ….she is still eyeing the decorated tree as an intruder!!!!!! I turn 65 in a few days and I have never had an artificial tree.I had to use my grabber arm to put my angel at the top!!!!!

    • An early happy 65th birthday to you, Leanne. Are you as excited as me to turn 65 and get on Medicare? I can’t wait.

      Like you, I’ve never had an artificial tree either. It sounds like you have a wonderful family tradition of finding the perfect tree. Love the name Rum River Tree Farm.

  3. BERNADETTE Thomasy Says:

    For years we had a Christmas tree stand just like yours. I bet you’ve had it for awhile. Enjoy your tree and all the memories it brings.

  4. valeriebollinger Says:

    We bought our tree at the same place…hoping it was still the same folks from last year – it looked a bit different. You confirmed it is the same family. 😉 Thanks. I do like their tress.

  5. Sandra Van Erp Says:

    In 2016 you did a nice blog on the Kuntze tree lot. In 2017 KDHL did a nice piece on their pending transition. I’m caught up now. Until we left St. Mary’s, everything was real, aroma everywhere. Garlands strung in the chapel, decorating the dining room for Christmas Dinner, trees in the front hall that we usually inherited one. And tinsel which is really hard to find now. Since it’s been a mix. That tree stand looks very familiar too. I’m back to real on the patio and no cats right now. What is your definition of a Charlie Brown tree? I googled, got balsam fir with sparse decorations. hmmmm…… Glad you are pleased with this year’s tree, it helps the visual mental sensors.

  6. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    I like your tree Audrey! I grew up with a real tree, always a real tree. Rick and I carried on the tradition of my family while our kids were growing up, we always had a real tree until about 10 years ago when we remodeled our living room. With brand new carpet, we decided that we would look for a “real looking” artificial tree, I was tired of the sappy pine needles all over the carpet and house. It was hard to make the switch, but I’m glad we did, it’s a real nice tree that looks “real”. Our kids carry on the tradition of real trees which warms my heart.

  7. melirey96 Says:

    We are a fan of The peanuts. I grew up watching Charlie Brown and passed it onto my son. My mother bought my son a fake Charlie Brown Christmas tree that I have put up in his room for the past several years with colorful twinkling lights and the red Christmas ball ornament hanging to the side. The tree skirt wrapped around the tree which is Linus blanket. A Charlie brown figurine I bought four years ago hanging on the tree. I wish there was a way I can share the picture of it. Every Christmas morning we watch the Charlie Brown Christmas movie 🎄

  8. I no longer get trees. I feel that I should do my part to keep living trees in the forest helping to control global warming. We also don’t do plastic trees for the same reason. I am sure that your house must smell wonderful with a fresh pine. Enjoy your holiday.

  9. Your older ornaments sound like such treasure! I wish I still had some of those ornaments from my childhood. Such a sweet little tree! You’ll have to post a photo of it once it’s decorated, Audrey. ❤

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