Sunday, December 14, 2008


I’ve mentioned before that I’m hoping to write a book called “Acing the Holidays” about sneaky shortcuts and ways to cut the time and stress devoted to this season. But when it comes to decorating a Christmas tree, I become irrational and I just…can’t…stop. (If there were a Greek name for this personality disorder I realized, it would be elatophilia)

Yesterday my husband walked into the kitchen and shouted “How many trees are we going to have?” The answer is five – each one with a different theme. And this year I’m trying to keep it down because I’m leaving for India two days after Christmas.

The first and most important Christmas tree is the one in the living room that we generally buy and wrestle into the house around Dec. 6, Saint Nicholas' Day. This year the tree came with a very PC tag that said “Balsam Fir --Thank you for choosing a real tree – a natural, renewable and recyclable resource! For every tree sold, 3 seedlings are planted in its place.”

When our kids were small, we used only unbreakable ornaments, and even tied a string to a nail in the wall to keep the tree upright in case of attack. But the kids grew up and went away and I acquired a whole variety of ornaments over time, so every year I do a different color scheme. Red and gold. Or all white. Or red and white. Or pink and burgundy.

This year I noticed in stores and catalogs that the trendy color scheme is chartreuse and red, but I decided to use some mirrored (like disco balls) ornaments and reflective chains and do the tree all in silver and mirrors with maybe some red ornaments. Then I found at the dollar store some VERY cheap clear plastic ornaments that looked glass. At TJ Maxx, I also found at a discount price three dozen clip-on white butterflies with silver glitter on their wings (which are made of white feathers.)

It always takes me about two evenings to get all the clear mini lights on the tree – about a thousand lights in all. Then I started putting on chains and the butterflies and a couple of ornaments. I know I’m supposed to leave some decorating for when the kids get home right before Christmas, but I got a little carried away.

I was so happy with the monochromatic, sparkling, disco-ball tree that I decided not to put anything red on, except for a single red butterfly that I found at the dollar store. You can see the tree above. (If you click on the photo it will be larger.) It looks like the tree of the Snow Queen, I think. Or like the poor ice-encrusted trees in our yard that have been falling down or losing branches ever since the ice storm last Friday.

This tree is definitely not done – not until we have the ceremony of putting the angel on top on Christmas Eve after church (and then we each get to open one package.)

The tree that I always put up next is the Shoe Tree in my office. It’s a table-top artificial tree and everything on it or around it is about SHOES.

This started back when the Metropolitan Museum decided to sell ornaments based on the shoes in their collections. It was a very profitable idea and soon everyone was selling shoe ornaments. And people started giving me actual shoes – I have antique high-button baby shoes and fabulous Adidas sneakers meant for a baby and some real leather and fur antique baby Indian moccasins. My favorite is a pair of Chinese baby slippers that look like cats.

Now I’ve told you about two of my five trees. Next time I’ll tell you about the wire tree with antique ornaments, the little Mexican tree with five Nativity scenes, and the Kitchen tree that is decorated mainly with edible decorations.

My name is Joan and I'm a Christmas tree addict.....

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