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Navy Exchange regional divisional manager Mike Owyen uses a chain saw to size a tree for Navy spouse Jennifer Devries. After three years in Japan, Devries stands by her belief that it’s just not Christmas without a real tree.
Navy Exchange regional divisional manager Mike Owyen uses a chain saw to size a tree for Navy spouse Jennifer Devries. After three years in Japan, Devries stands by her belief that it’s just not Christmas without a real tree. (Chris Fowler / S&S)

Now that Thanksgiving has your fat pants fitting just right, it’s time to rearrange the furniture to figure out where to put the tree.

The seasonal shift of holiday gears has hit high speed with the opening of Christmas tree stands on Pacific bases.

As at most bases, Yokosuka Naval Base began selling trees Friday.

“This morning we had a line of people waiting for the doors to open, and we have been selling steady ever since,” Mike Owyen, a Navy Exchange regional manager, said Friday afternoon.

Most exchanges are selling three varieties of trees: Douglas fir, grand fir and noble fir.

The trees are priced according to size and needle longevity, ranging from about $18 to $60.

Owyen said trees at NEX outlets in Yokosuka and Negishi, Atsugi, Sasebo, Hardy Barracks and Singapore will be sold out no later than mid-December.

But Misawa Air Base families who didn’t buy a live Christmas tree over the weekend will have to wait until next year, unless they’re interested in two 7- to 8-foot-tall evergreens.

The Boy Scouts sold 63 trees Friday, Saturday and Sunday and have only two remaining, said Master Sgt. Karl Van Over, Misawa zone commissioner.

“They were flying like the wind caught them,” he said. The Boy Scouts buy trees from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service and resell them.

Last year, the scouts set up shop at their scout hut at Rocky’s Roost, between main base and north area, and had trouble selling all of their stock.

This year, they were given permission to sell trees in a much more visible location — outside in the corner between the base exchange and commissary, Van Over said. This year’s inventory was based on demand from last year, Van Over said. He said the scouts will try to get more trees next year.

Exchange officials at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni said that although no specific date has been set, trees should become available there in early December. Scouts also will run tree sales at Yongsan Army Garrison in South Korea. An Army spokesman said trees will become available at Blackhawk Village, Multipurpose Court and Yongsan South Post beginning Dec. 1. For more information, call 011-9671-0329 or e-mail trees@troop88.net.

On Okinawa, the shipment of trees for the Army Air Force Exchange System recently cleared the agricultural quarantine inspection and should be on sale at the Camp Foster exchange Wednesday or Thursday, said Air Force Master Sgt. Donovan K. Potter, an AAFES spokesman. Potter said AAFES receives only one shipment of live trees, so customers shouldn’t dally.

“We never have trees left over,” he said.

Stars and Stripes reporters Travis Tritten, Cindy Fisher and Jennifer Svan contributed to this report.

How to make your tree last

Keep your tree watered.

“Every day, believe me, the trees will drink it up, and it will help keep the needles from falling all over the place,” said Navy Exchange regional divisional manager Mike Owyen.

Owyen also cautioned people against placing their trees too close to any heat source — especially electric heaters.

And the straighter and more balanced your tree, the less chance of it falling over.

“Use the right size stand for your size tree,” Owyen said. “The larger the tree, the deeper and wider the stand should be.”

As for preservation, many exchanges sell a solution that may be added to the water. For those who prefer to do it themselves, adding sugar or a can of pop to the water will help extend the life of your tree.

“All cut trees will eventually begin to drop needles,” Owyen said. “But with a little care, your tree should remain ready to enjoy through Christmas.”

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