The Trading Post’s owner, Betsy Jacocks, has been fielding calls “every day” about the Pauls, the Michigan tree farmers who have been coming to the Islamorada store for 40 years to sell Christmas trees in the lot abutting her property. Why all the calls? The family is not coming this year.

Jacocks has been assuring callers that the Pauls are all okay. 

“They had a bad crop that happened eight years ago, and they don’t have the inventory. For the first time in years. Also, there’s the rising fuel costs. They were disappointed. So let’s keep our fingers crossed. They will try to come back next year.”

Tom Paul started the Christmas tree stand in 1980. He passed away unexpectedly from a massive heart attack about five years ago. But the loss of their patriarch and the backbreaking work didn’t deter the family from returning to Islamorada. His son, T.J. Paul, and his partner, Jessica Shepard, didn’t even hesitate.

“It’s who we are. We’ve been coming here since high school,” Shepard said last year. “People who buy from us say, ‘We’ve been getting our trees here for 40 years.’”

As for where else to buy your tree, pickings are slim in the Upper Keys. Publix in Islamorada and Key Largo and Tavernier’s Ace Hardware are just about sold out as of Tuesday, Nov. 30. That leaves Home Depot in Marathon (305-289-1966) and Homestead (786-243-9370). In addition, if you’d like your tree purchase to go to a good cause, try Life Pointe Church in Homestead. Proceeds go toward local and global missions. Call ahead to make sure trees are still available at their tent this weekend: 305-247-0889.

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Charlotte Twine fled her New York City corporate publishing life and happily moved to the Keys six years ago. She has written for Travel + Leisure, Allure, and Offshore magazines; Elle.com; and the Florida Keys Free Press. She loves her two elderly Pomeranians, writing stories that uplift and inspire, making children laugh, the color pink, tattoos, Johnny Cash, and her husband. Though not necessarily in that order.