Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Magic of a Christmas Tree

So far this Christmas season, I've been really bummed, and I could not figure out why. I kept wandering through the decorations sections of the various stores I visited thinking that I would eventually find the right thing to make me finally feel festive. Well, I discovered that "something" today at Target.

A Christmas tree. I know, it seems really silly, but it's true. I was missing a Christmas tree. Having a tree, to be more precise. DH and I haven't even attempted to put up a tree since the first Christmas we were married for two reasons. #1: It resulted in one of the few fights ever between DH and me. I can literally count on one hand the fights he and I have had in the last 13+ years (not disagreements or arguments, but out and out fights), and this was one of them. I can't even remember what sparked it, but I didn't get further than putting the lights on it (by myself; one of the sticking points of the fight, IIRC), and that was it. We never put it up again. #2: We also travelled for Christmas every year, so with the bad taste of that first attempt still lingering, I really didn't see the point of putting up a tree if we weren't even going to be there. We helped Mom put up their tree at Thanksgiving, so we still had a tree at Christmas and got to enjoy the "putting up the tree process," just at my parents' house instead of ours.

Then came Luke. We had a firm rule that once children arrived, we would spend Christmas at our house. We did make an exception (as I'm sure I've mentioned more than once) for Luke's very first Christmas since he was less than 3 months old and still very easily portable. Plus you don't have to hide gifts from a baby! LOL But since then (that was Christmas 2004), we've been here, and mostly without a tree.

Our big tree is, well, big. Seven feet kind of big. It would look great in our two-storey foyer, but it would also take up most of said foyer, which was one of Luke's primary play areas at the time (he was still perfecting walking in 2005). The tree is also buried in the back of the bonus room (where we put it upon moving into the house in 2001, then proceeded to continue putting stuff in the room, without saying "hey, you might want to actually *get* to the tree one day!"). As I said, it's only ever even been assembled that once, back in 1998. And it isn't pre-lit (that was 9 years ago, folks; there was no such thing except at uber-expensive boutiques), which just makes it that much worse. Plus, the vast majority of the ornaments I have to go on it are both very precious to me and very breakable. Not much incentive to dig it out, put the lights on it, and try to decorate it with a toddler and (then) four cats, none of whom have never been around a tree before. Why put up something that huge and pretty, and then have to spend the entire rest of the holiday season telling the toddler that he can't touch it? And chasing the cats away from it? Plus with the cats, we couldn't even put presents under the tree if we *did* get it up because they like to tear up the paper and chew on the ribbons. It was like a recipe for disaster!

I was stressed enough having Christmas here in the first place (having only *ever* spent Christmas at my parents' house), and I just didn't want the hassle. So I bought a tiny little fiber optic tree (22 inches, I think), set it on top of our entertainment center, put up some tiny inexpensive ornaments, and that was that. It's been that way for three Christmases now (2005-2007), just our little tiny tree. Don't get me wrong, I love our little tree. The color changing fiber optics fascinate me (it's part of my fondness for things that blink), and I think it is beautiful done in all silver and clear iridescent ornaments (the closest I've ever come to a theme tree).


But as I walked through the holiday decor section at Target, I realized it wasn't a wreath, or an ornament, or a centerpiece, or any other small "thing" I was missing. It was a tree. A real (artificial) tree, with real lights and larger than marble-sized ornaments and room enough to put presents underneath. A real tree for Luke to look at and touch and admire. And when the 4 foot pre-lit models were on clearance for less than $25, I realized in that moment that I had to have one. I also realized that, if I shopped carefully at the right places and bought the right kind of things, I could decorate the tree for about the same amount with pretty yet break-resistant ornaments! Less than $50 would buy me that little bit of holiday magic that I had been missing.

I'm sure there are better things I could have spent the money on, but I am SOOO happy with our little tree! It doesn't have anything on top (couldn't find anything I liked that wasn't outrageously expensive) except a "crown" of gold snowflakes I constructed out of some of the ornaments I bought, and it doesn't have a tree skirt yet (need to find a small-ish one). Most of the ornaments are plastic or metal, and the few that are glass are pretty generic and I won't really care if they break. But I love it nonetheless. It makes me all warm and fuzzy just to look at it! I intentionally bought some individual items that Luke would recognize, like a penguin, a Santa, a dinosaur (yes, a dinosaur!), and a plastic Pixar Cars ball featuring Lightning McQueen. It's a mishmash of all sorts of things and colors; it reminds me very much of the kind of eclectic tree I grew up with.

And the look of awe and wonder on Luke's face as he came into the house this evening and laid eyes on it for the first time literally moved me to tears. "Christmas tree!" he exclaimed, as he ran right over to it, but he did not attempt to touch it. I thought he would burst with happiness when I handed him a couple of plastic snowflakes and asked him to help me finish decorating it. He was *so* excited to be allowed to handle the tree and the ornaments. Any lingering doubt I had about spending the money on something so "frivolous" vanished in that instant.

Small pre-lit Christmas tree: $25
Break-resistant decorations: $30
Christmas Magic: priceless!


Currently feeling: the Christmas spirit!


  1. Awwww. That's such a lovely tree Erin. For me, the most magical bit of Christmas (now that Father Christmas no longer visits me!) is the tree (though I prefer the capital-R Real variety!). I am having such a hard time giving up the decorating of the tree to the pre-schooler of the household, as I love it to be 'just-so', but I have to pass the magic on to him too. DH told me the other day that when our kids are old enough to 'get it', he and they will decorate the tree just for me one year. :)


  2. That is a great tree!

    Thanks for stopping by my site!!!~G


  3. It's a beautiful tree, Erin!!

  4. Your tree looks great! I love the candy canes. Now I'm feeling the need to go get some to put on our tree. :D

  5. The photo looks great! I can't wait to see it! Merry Christmas Baby!

  6. YAY! I felt your happiness reading your post. How wonderful for you and Luke.

  7. I love your trees. I'm glad you found your Christmas magic. :)

  8. Thanks for sharing that great story, Erin! It's not really Christmas 'til we put up our "real real" tree. I had to skip it one year and I felt very sad the whole season. And I must admit an affinity with Luke; even weeks after ours is up, I am wont to walk into the room and exclaim "TREE!!" while grinning like a maniac. =) Enjoy your tree!!!

  9. Awww I love your tree and the story. Wish you a very magical Christmas.

  10. Yay tree! And: duh. ;-) I don't know how you have been living without one all these years! (Says the woman who had a 3-foot artificial tree and decorations for her _dorm room_ back in college.)


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