Oh, Christmas Tree!

I have a long history with Christmas trees.

Actually, my history is with a tree. Singular.

In my adult life, I’ve only owned one tree. I bought it on sale for $19.99 from Target, and it not only got me through my apartment years as a young single, it stuck with me through 20 years of family life. It was a petite 7-feet tall, and it was made back when artificial trees still looked artificial. Undeterred by its modest proportions and scant foliage, I loaded it down with lights and dozens of collected ornaments (many handmade by my children, friends and family). I placed it in front of French doors that faced one of the busiest streets in our hometown, and many, many friends and neighbors regularly commented how “pretty” my tree was. (The drive-by glance is always the most flattering!)

I’m more than a little sentimental, but when we moved last summer, I was ready to ditch our sad little tree, despite its many years of holiday service to our family. I dreamed of buying a luxury pre-lit tree — tall and lush and easy-to-assemble, and hopefully with no “fluffing” necessary.

But lordy did I develop a severe case of sticker shock once I started shopping. I’d been sheltered for two decades and I hadn’t noticed the price of faux trees had skyrocketed. I had no intention of spending north of $700 for a tree, no matter how many lights it had or how easy the assembly promised to be.

Trouble was, the $300 models weren’t that impressive.  Sure, they beat heck out of my $19.99 tree, but in most ways they were just as artificial only a little sadder because they were trying so hard not to be. At least my Charlie Brown-Target tree knew its place in the world and had lost all pretension about 30 minutes after it came out of the box in 1989.

After a day-long tree expedition last Saturday that ended in failure and tried the patience of my family, I vowed to take the path less traveled. “I’ll just make my own tree!” I snapped. I had a vague idea but no real plan.

All I knew was that we had left a grand and historic home in my hometown. It was built in 1921 and was loaded with vintage charm and craftsmanship. We moved to a modern white box 400 miles away that couldn’t be more different. I’ve embraced our new home’s contemporary sensibility . . . so much so that the thought of a “traditional” tree pained me as much as the price tag.

So my husband and I took a walk on our acreage and a few hours (and a couple of cans of spray paint) later, I ended up with what I’m calling my avant-garde tree.

It’s part sculpture, part art, all kitsch. I know it’s a little crazy (okay, a lot), but it fits this house. This season in my life. And it’s certainly not trying to be something it isn’t, which is a homespun reminder of the house and tree we loved back home.

Up close, I find a kind of quiet beauty in its simplicity.

And my friend, the owl stands watch over us.

It’s a new home and a new tree. And it promises to be an all-new Christmas.

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5 Comments on “Oh, Christmas Tree!”

  1. krysta says:

    i love it! i think it fits in nicely with the house. also love the green trees on the fireplace. did you make those too or did you buy them? because i want to know where if you did!

  2. The author. says:

    They are TJ Maxx bargains, purchased this time last year. I love them, too, and I finally live in a home they fit in!

  3. Nat says:

    That is really really gorgeous. Are you going to hang all the sentimental the ornaments on it?

  4. The author. says:

    Nat, I think not. Somehow I think it looks right in its minimalist state.

  5. Terry says:

    Great job in adapting! You may find a tree post-Christmas that is discounted enough to not give you hives (I did that several years ago; got up before the crack of dawn on Dec. 26 and headed to a specialty store to snag one of their markdowns.) Funny, I just gave away our 20-something-year-old tree from Cimarron Pottery (do those stores even exist anymore?) and it went to a good home through our church’s benevolence ministry. I’m glad to know that someone who would have had no tree at all will use it until they can afford something nicer. Love the mantel decs, too.


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