Monday, December 1, 2008

To Tree or Not to Tree?

Growing up, we always had a lovely tree. My mother, then an interior designer, knew how best to find the perfect scale and the perfect spruce, which we would chop down in some excellent smelling tree farm up north and then trim up in the most elegant way. In our home, fluffy needles were styled with white pin lights, popcorn strings, heirloom ornaments, a beautiful skirt which was, let's face it, obscured by the most fantastically and matchingly wrapped gifts.

Contrast this to my husband's childhood memory: articficial tree with ever-blinking rainbow-coloured lights, multicoloured tinsel, garland, cello wrapped candy-canes and terrific, if eclectically wrapped, presents.

I know it sounds like I'm judging. (Secretly, that's cuz I am.) And while I realize this hints at my bratty unwillingness to accept all the many ways to enjoy a Christmas tree, I think we should blame my mother for instilling me with such a strong sense of how things are supposed to look.

Dontcha love how I've managed to ding everyone for my own intransigence?

So, natch, being long-married and tired of fighting, Scott and I have worked out a kind of compromise on the tree front:
  • It is fake (to save the trees from needless death) but
  • It is bushy and 9 feet tall but
  • It may have green lights but
  • They will not flicker but
  • There is garland but
  • No tinsel
  • And the presents will be wrapped in complementary paper and ribbon
  • Until that runs out whereupon S will use whatever he can find but
  • Those equally loved presents will go to the back of the tree behind the matchy ones.

Now you see why we try to go away at Xmas - whereupon there is only harmony in our family.

My question for y'all is, do you have a tree? If yes, how does it work (real, fake, mini, grand)? Is the tree an extension of your fashion philosophy? I'm so intrigued to know...


  1. Fake tree, mismatched ornaments, colored lights, in short, it's everything you hate. :0)

  2. Compromise is among the most important elements of a successful marriage, don't you think? Sounds like you've got a perfect system worked out - and a backup plan of fleeing if it fails!

    Believe it or not, Husband Mike and I are total Grinches and refuse both tree and decorations. We leave that to his mom, who is fanatical about Christmas and do Hanukkah at our house on our own. (I'm half-half, and Mike just wishes he was a Jew.)

  3. I am an anti-flashing lights and anti-garland gal. My mother did decorator trees so I am drawn to tress that look more rustic and Charlie Brown. He-weasel shares my tree aesthetic, or at least I think he does. Either that or his feelings about tree rules are not as strong as mine.;-)

  4. I always remember my childhood Xmas trees. Big and gorgeous!!!!

    Every year I say I'm not doing a Xmas tree. Nearly the Xmas day Hubby brings all the stuff from upstairs...
    I don't want the house to be a mess, so I help doing the fake (of course) Xmas tree. (always complaning)


  5. Sounds like a great compromise!

    I land somewhere in the middle. Our tree is artificial and tiny because our house is tiny (and I guess artificial), but I made sure that all the ornaments were harmonious in colour and that the lights were yellow and didn't do any epilepsy-inducing tricks. We are collecting a more random assortment of ornaments over the years, however, so there's the odd mismatched rogue, but I like the sentimental value they give.

    We decorated ours last night :)

  6. I don't have a tree, never have, never will!

  7. Dr. M: Egad!

    Sal: In truth, the back up plan is more sound than the compromise plan - though challenging when paying off a hideously expensive bathroom reno!

    Belette: Ah, the rustic charlie brown tree. A very beautiful style in its spareness. Pine, I imagine?

    Seeker: It's good that your husband forces you to enjoy the season :-)

    Andrea: Will we be seeing a photo on your blog??

    Wendy: What?! It's the perfect vehicle for modelling your lovely jewels. You are so missing the boat :-)

  8. We have a 5ft bushy fake tree - personally I'd love something really garish (a big fluffy white or lavender plastic tree is my dream), and my husband would totally let me - but they cost too much money. All my ornaments are colourful, eclectic and collected over the years. However, I don't like lights and I don't like tinsel, just to be contrary.

    I grew up with perfectly tasteful real tress with scandinavian wooden ornaments etc (and some years we just had the white painted twig tree thing) so I've reacted against that by loving the crazy fake trees and the kooky ornaments!

  9. Ahh, I'm a fake plastic tree girl! My first memory of a tree was a tiny little silver one, and i did really love that tree. Last year David and I dug up a little pine from the forest (it was about half a meter tall) and planted it in a bucket, sadly it died a few months later - oh well, it did smell nice but i'm really not adverse to which tree i get, they are all pretty in their own ways.

  10. My grandfather owned a tree farm and my father would cut one down every December. Before we had children we didn't even consider a tree, but now we go out to a tree farm ( a different one, obviously), ride on a wagon with a couple of farm golden retrievers and choose a tree for Mr. C. to cut down. I decorate the tip top half with primitive-ish hand-painted ornaments from Russia; the children decorate the bottom half with whatever they've made and some simple but unbreakable ornaments. I sit and gaze at the (multicolored, unblinking) lights for hours.

  11. I have to admit - I'm a real tree lover all the way. The look, the smell...oh the favorite!

  12. We have a small tree in a pot. It comes pre-decorated. It's the best way to keep me from losing my mind, because I have very definite ideas of how to decorate for Xmas, and they don't go with anyone else's ideas of how to decorate for Xmas.

  13. Always been a fake tree :)

  14. we have a 9 ft gunni eucalyptus out front which Mr H spontaneously on Saturday with twinkling lights. Inside it is usually a charity fundraiser real tree which costs €40 from special needs riding school. Covered in plastic baubles hooked on to tinsel and stuff the Kids make each year. No presents, they wouldn't last a minute, but I hang quilted stockings on the mantle. The finishing touch is The Crib. An alternative holy family. Our lord now lives with a shepherd, Joseph and a wise king after Mary took a dive on the marble fire place last year. The animals in the stable change daily.

  15. It's "not to tree" for me this year. I may nab some pine branches from an unsuspecting neighbor's yard, however, to get that piney scent.

  16. We have a real tree (momentary guilt), with fairy lights that do not flash, no tinsel and decorations collected over 40 years (from both sets of parents), each with a story. We normally put the tree up on the last day of the school year, and my (now teenage) daughter puts on the decorations (I redistribute any that are obviously unsafe after she has gone to bed). I'm looking forward to getting ours on Dec 19th.

  17. Skye: For you, a lavender tree would be perfection! Now you've made me want one.

    Paper Doll: It's sad when they die. That's the one reason I can get with artificial.

    Miss C: Why doesn't this surprise me? How rustic excellence.

    Diana: For sure, the reason I can justify killing a tree is in the scent.

    E: So you're with me. All those family members messing with perfection! :-)

    Y: Take a photo...

    Hammie: Wait till you hear my next post about the daycare auction - let's just say I can relate to your fundraiser scenario.

    DG: Very smart use of burglary skills :-)

    Isabella: That sounds perfect. Am I invited?

  18. I love the compromise, especially the complementary paper and ribbons - I always try to do that until I, too, run out and hide the ones wrapped up in the not-so-matching paper.

    If I had storage space, I think we would have kept our fake tree. It was a good fake and I really liked it. Until we move to a place with storage, it's a real tree for us. I like a real tree, anyway and it's fun to carry it home.

  19. That is v. funny. Personally, I like a dead branch decorated with white fairy lights and tasteful silver or pewter ornaments. My kids and other half like the real evergreen but we keep the fairy white lights and tasteful ornaments as a compromise.

  20. Isn't married life full of compromises? I'm lucky tho. I usually get away with anything when it comes to xmas trees. That reminds me. I need to find our tree. I don't even know where it is!

  21. Ohmygod, I love reading what everyone else has.

    We have a 7 or 8 foot fake that we got on sale last year at Canadian Tire, reduced from $300 to $100! Booyeah!

    No tinsel, just white lights, and white and blue balls (to match the colours of my husband's belle provence.

    The walking devil that is my son (18 months) likes to suckle on the branches. Ew, weirdo kid.

    Also, we don't do gifts as we just buy ourselves whatever we want throughout the year. (does that sound obnoxious and spoiled? I am totally spoiled and I'm okay with that).

    Oops, this was really long! sorry! smoochies!

  22. Sara: The real tree is my not-so-secret preference. Though I hope you have a new place with lots of storage soon!

    GT: Look at you, letting the kids express themselves! :-) A dead branch is much easier to throw away than a whole tree!

    Songy: It's your plan for the weekend. It took me all weekend to find mine :-)

    Tanya: Very good score! Both tree and lifestyle. :-) And I'm sure pine has medicinal properties to rev up little toddlers...

  23. we're a mixed household. among other holiday symbols, we have a smallish ceramic tree from my taller half's grandmother. you plug it in and colored lights...light up.
    we had a tree last year - carrying it out scraped our walls, made a HUGE mess in the hallways and wrenched the big guy's back. if i ever get a tree again, it will be a small small one. but for now, i like the ceramic one.

  24. I love those ceramic trees, editor! My granny has one too. And when the real tree wrecks your house, it's all the more appealing. Ceramic is all minimalist, just like you :-)