LIZTON — The sign on the front of the gift shop at Nelson's Christmas Tree Farm - the one that read "closed forever" - didn't exactly bode well for a merry holiday season.
Jack and Pam Nelson, the farm's owners, acknowledge it wasn't an easy decision. But after 29 years, and losing $50,000 worth of inventory in this summer's drought, they knew it was the right one.
"That was like, 'OK God, I get the message. It's time'," said Jack. "But it was time. It was getting tougher as we were getting older."
Jack worked as a forester for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for 34 years, retiring in 2005. Many foresters supplemented their incomes with Christmas tree farms. Jack got an opportunity to work on one forester's farm in northern Indiana during the 1970s.
"That's where I learned the business," he said.
Jack bought this property to start his own Christmas tree farm in 1984. He never intended to live there, but Pam, who resided near Speedway at the time, fell in love with the area.
"It's much better than living in the city," she said. "I like the privacy."
The farm ultimately helped put their children through college and Jack and Pam to acquire things they otherwise wouldn't have been able to afford.
"We've been blessed," Pam said. "We had a nice location, a nice piece of property, and we're fortunate to have a lot of good people that helped us along the way."
That has included friends who helped on the farm, neighbors who endured the extra traffic around Christmas, and school-aged children who worked on the farm and eventually adopted the Nelsons as grandparents.
And of course there were the customers, many of whom were quite emotional when they learned the farm was closing after this year.