Before we ever thought about owning a B&B, we stumbled upon a great little tree farm that started our family’s tradition of cutting down our own Christmas tree. Who would have thought that 3 years later we would sell everything we owned in Massachusetts and build our dream B&B in that same little Town of Bethlehem.
You see, our daughter Emily was born the week after the horror of September 11th. It was such a joyous time for us but all of the news and talk everywhere was of 9/11. It was too depressing for me as a new mother, so I checked myself out of the hospital the day after she was born so that we could go home and tune out the world and enjoy Emily and help Connor get used to being a big brother. After a couple weeks, I was online and saw that eBay was having a bunch of auctions from which all of the money would go to help support the families of 9/11. So figuring that it was something I could do to help, I went on eBay and looked at the listings and found a weekend getaway donated by The Mt. Washington Resort. I kept bidding on the weekend until I ultimately won, and the first week of December Michael and I packed up the kids and headed to New Hampshire. The resort was beautifully decorated and we got some cute photos of Connor trying to hold his little sister Emily up for my Christmas card that year. When we were checking out, we asked at the front desk about where we should go to get a Christmas tree with the kids. They offer packages with The Rocks Estate, as we do now, and suggested we go there.
As we were heading west on Route 302 we had no idea that we were passing by what is now the current driveway to Bear Mountain Lodge. Less than a mile from The Rocks Estate, Michael spotted a sign that said “Finnegan’s Fine Firs” and asked me if I wanted to try it as it sounded like a smaller place and maybe not so busy. So he turned right and when we came upon Finnegan’s we knew we’d made the right decision. It’s on a residential side street and surrounds the Finnegan family home. After Connor checked out the donkey and goats, we headed down a little path marked with cute sayings to find our tree. My video of that day is priceless — as Michael is pointing out trees to Connor to help him choose, I’m recording this all while carrying Emily in my other arm all wrapped up in winter gear. At one point, Connor yells “I found it Daddy, I want that one.” As I turned the camcorder in that direction, I started laughing as I saw the huge 10+ foot tree that Connor picked out. I told him that it was a beautiful tree but that our ceilings were only 8′ tall and that he’d have to pick another one. After a half hour or so of wandering through the fields, he settled on a great tree and we headed to the main building to pay for the tree and some kissing balls.
Here’s where the best part happened. I went to pay with my credit card and Mr. Finnegan informed me that they didn’t take credit cards, cash or check only. I said that I didn’t have either and Miles looked at us and said “No problem. Here’s our card with our address, when you get home just send us a check.” We were in shock and said that this would never happen back home. We vowed that Finnegan’s Fine Firs in Bethlehem NH would be our family tree farm from now on. But the next couple of years got really busy for us at work and with two little kids that we didn’t make it back to NH to get our tree, we had to get one locally in Mass.
Then in 2004 when we were looking for the land to build Bear Mountain Lodge, our broker said he found a great piece of land for us in Bethlehem. On our way to view the land, we passed that same little sign saying Finnegan’s Fine Firs and laughed at Connor saying he wanted that huge tree. We knew that once we built the Lodge he could pretty much pick out any tree he wanted for the great room since the ceilings would be almost 15′ tall. And the rest is history. We moved to Bethlehem in 2004 to build Bear Mountain Lodge and we’ve gotten all of our trees and wreaths from Finnegan’s since and all of them have been at least 12′ tall. In fact, the year before last when we were at Finnegan’s I saw the perfect tree. I called over to the kids and said I wanted this one to which they both replied “No, it’s too small!” The lady beside me started laughing as the tree was about 10′ tall and I told her this was important business for the kids to get the most beautiful, huge tree they could find at Finnegan’s every year. And here’s my favorite photo in front of our 13′ Finnegan’s Fir from 2006, the year after Bear Mountain Lodge opened.
So as the leaves are falling from the trees and all of our guests are enjoying beautiful foliage, we all start talking about a trip to Finnegan’s the day after Thanksgiving to get our perfect tree. And now I’m prepared as I never forget my checkbook!
To learn more about our two great tree farms in Bethlehem, you can go to: