Perfect Christmas tree still out there?

Every year, my husband and I consider getting an artificial Christmas tree.

But to be honest, there is nothing like the fresh smell of pine to bring back Christmas memories of childhood.

So again we searched for the perfect tree. But this year, unlike other years, we found it at the first place we looked: the Hartson family's front yard on Odell School Road.

"We sold Christmas trees in Connecticut for over 10 years, and we were very successful with it. We made all our trees $25 and would sell approximately 300 trees a season," Karianne Hartson said. " ... Our repeat customer base was fantastic.

"We made sure every year to give away a few trees to local churches and to families ... in ... need. It was a family affair, which was nice during the holiday season."

The Hartsons moved to North Carolina two years ago to be closer to family. They never looked back. But when they first came here, times were very tough for them.

"Another reason we are selling trees is (that) the first year we came down to North Carolina, we had used every bit of money we had just for the move. I went to a local (lot) that was selling trees and told him I ... wanted to know what he could do on a very small tree to help us out," Karianne said.

"He showed me a tree that was pretty scraggly and about 4 feet tall. I asked how much, and he said the very best he could do was $40. I barely had that but went ahead and bought it so my son, 10 at the time, could have a tree.

"So when we were going to sell trees, we also decided we were going to sell 7- to 8-foot trees for $40."

Karianne said sales help pay for her son's love of racing.

"Coty races Bandolero racecars in the Outlaws division," she said. "Racing is a very expensive hobby, and instead of telling my son we couldn't race this year, we decided to show him that with hard work, the money could be made."

I know Christmas is less than a week away, but if you're still searching for that perfect tree, check the Hartsons' display on Odell School Road, just south of N.C. 73.

"So far the customers that we have had have been thrilled by the... cost and the ... trees. There is no reason to get greedy in this ... poor economy," Karianne said.

"We have received several hugs from people that just say 'thanks.' That is really what it is all about," she said. "Helping people is the best feeling anyone can have.

"We are not going to get rich doing this, but we are going to be able to help some people have a very nice Christmas and help our son race a few more races."

Merry Christmas!