A Holiday Experience Tree Lot and More
● By Kerri Regan
O' Christmas TreeDecember 2015
By Kerri Regan
Close your eyes and let your mind sketch out a picture of the perfect Christmas. We’d bet you a cup of egg nog that your vision doesn’t include a crowded mall or a wallet full of maxed-out credit cards.
Nor did Tina Carletta’s.
“I realized that as Christmas approached, everybody got so caught up in everything but what the true meaning of Christmas meant,” says Carletta, who has lived in Redding for 36 years. “Lots of families get so pressured to buy all these things to give… I wanted to provide trees to people who are less fortunate.”
She began donating trees to churches and local nonprofits, but then her imagination – as it tends to do – began to run wild. “It’s about paying it forward,” she says. “I’ve been so blessed my whole life. I love to give, and there’s such a need to give.”
So last year, she brought the Holiday Experience to life, where guests enjoyed the magic of the season, selected Christmas trees and reveled in the spirit of giving, as a portion of proceeds were donated to charity, Carletta says.
And she had so much fun that she’s doing it again this year.
Located behind Kent’s Meats and Groceries, the Holiday Experience invites guests to sip hot cocoa and cider, listen to carolers, ride ponies, have family portraits taken and visit with the jolly old elf himself – “there’s a huge circus tent that I theme out where Santa’s throne will be,” she says.
Visitors can also make Christmas cards that are sent to members of the military. “Last year, we sent more than 75 cards. It’s so neat to see the pride in these kids’ faces to know that their cards are going to soldiers,” says Carletta, a cosmetologist and business owner.
Of course, a primary focus is finding that perfect Christmas tree, and the Holiday Experience lot includes noble firs from the Willamette Valley, along with silvertips and white firs from Mineral. “We get a whole crew and go up and cut them the week before Thanksgiving,” Carletta says. “You know what it’s like to go to the mountains and cut your own tree? Well, I tagged all 150 of mine. I wanted them all to be perfect.”
Tree delivery is available for an extra charge.
A portion of proceeds will benefit Providence International, a Redding-based charity for former foster youth who are learning to transition into the adult community by learning life skills such as building a resume, seeking a job, creating a grocery list and opening a bank account.
Though she’s made her list and checked it twice (and thrice), she could still use more carolers. “Anybody who wants to come down and sing out some holiday cheer, come on down,” Carletta says. “Come on down and enjoy the spirit, and give back to the community.”
That’s part of the fun – sharing the experience with others. Sequoia Middle School’s orchestra teacher told her students that they would be performing Christmas carols at the Holiday Experience, and “the kids had tears in their eyes,” Carletta says. “They were so excited to know they were going to have a chance to help give. That’s what it’s all about.”
A Holiday Experience
Through Tuesday, Dec. 22
Monday through Friday, 11am-8 pm
Saturday and Sunday, 9am-8pm
Kent’s Meats and Groceries, 8080 Airport Road, Redding