Contrary to a few myths and legends out there, the Christmas trees in Santa Maria Valley are not made of red oak!

In fact, a gaggle of very green Christmas trees has overtaken the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center, an interactive museum touting the extraordinary ecology and history of the Santa Maria Valley’s 22,000-acre Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Complex, which unfolds with awe-inspiring mountains of shifting sands that are teeming with biological diversity.

“Trees of the Season” is the Dunes Center’s annual fundraiser where area residents donate artfully decorated Christmas trees and wreaths to be raffled off. The public is invited to view the trees now through December 6; buy raffle tickets; and designate however many tickets they want to the trees or wreaths of their choice.

The drawings are held at a public reception at the Dunes Center on December 6 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Here, around 80 to 100 attendees enjoy food, wine and the excitement of the season. Monies raised support the Dunes Center’s education programs, which offer quality nature experiences to nearly 7,000 students annually.

But while we know how to decorate a traditional tree here in the Santa Maria Valley, we often break with tradition when it comes to holiday meals. That’s when the red oak comes out and we fire up the grill to cook tri-tip and top sirloin with pinquito beans and offer guests Santa Maria Style BBQ, a mean that never goes out of season!