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The Month Before Christmas

Jim Corliss, a longtime Christmas tree farmer from Newburgh, is 81 now. He can no longer move through his acres of trees with the athletic vigor of past years. But on a bright October day, he is busy working at Piper Mountain Christmas Trees the way he is still able, mowing between the rows of trees on a vintage riding lawnmower. When he pulls up to his dooryard, with effort, the burly, white-bearded man hoists himself off the machine and settles in on the porch of his farmhouse for an afternoon of storytelling.

Affable, and with a quick wit and easy laugh, Corliss seems straight out of central casting for the job of running the Christmas tree farm, which he co-owns with his wife, Norma. It’s a role that seems to define him. And for decades, he has served as a spokesman and advocate for his industry, promoting and defending it even in the face of adversity.

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