12.18.2012

ANATOMY OF A CHRISTMAS TREE ▲ ▲ ▲


earlier last week i had the distinct pleasure of dismantling my christmas tree a few weeks prematurely, as apparently a spider or some kind of spider-like creature had laid some sort of nest before chopping time and suddenly we were all awash in tiny baby . . . things . . . that would land on their backs on the hardwood floors and sort of twitch helplessly until i'd sweep them up for the third time that day and tsk tsk sadly and then do that squiggle dance you sometimes do in these types of situations. 

i say pleasure because actually, taking down a tree is almost as fun as putting one up if you're me. and i say spider-like creatures because though i was certain they were spiders, to quote brandon holbrook: "the good news is, i don't think they're ticks. i mean, they're probably not ticks. hey hey, don't freak out! i said they weren't! probably."

brandon, being the red bearded crusader that he is, decided he'd had enough of all this nonsense and collected a few of the dying baby whatevers into a plastic baggie and then set off back to the tree lot to get us a replacement. 

and taking down a christmas tree when it is bug-filled and you're getting pine needles and who knows what else down your bra and you're on a time crunch cause the tree guy will be here in ten minutes, well, it is sort of exhilarating. 

our new tree (betty the second) is indeed a beauty, and is also a whole foot taller and quite a bit skinnier than betty the first. our ornaments look really pretty on her. she's so skinny i had extra lights at the end that i just sort of stashed in there in weird places. basically, we pulled an old-man-in-a-mid-life-crisis and upgraded our first wife for a supermodel.

(poor betty the first.)

i got to thinking about christmas tree theories while i pulled off ornaments and flicked bug carcasses from their final resting places. white lights or colored? tinsel? color-coordinated or collected over the years? garlands? bows? truly, it's one of my favorite things to think about, and i could talk for hours at you about what a person's choice in christmas attire may or may not say about their souls. 

here is what makes up our little christmas tree.


now spill your guts and then let's psychoanalyze each other.

37 comments :

  1. my tree is full of red and whites and i discovered today that it is because i miss Canada so much it hurts

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  2. Well shoot, I like my tree gaudy and colorful. I don't even want to know what that says about me.

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  3. Why does that deer only have one eye?

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  4. Our tree is white and red and silver, piled high with pinecones and holly bushes and cranberries. Lots of glittery red balls and silver things. You can see a little bit of it here: http://soulsingingliv.blogspot.com/2012/12/our-boxes.html

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  5. We just moved, and somehow all of our christmas things got left at the old house, and since we haven't gotten them back yet, and I didn't want to buy more, I decided to make every ornament on our tree. If I couldn't make it from something around the house, we'll do without. Except the lights. I can't make those.

    So our tree has white pom poms, gold spray painted cardboard stars, and cinnamon smelling homemade, cookie look a like ornaments. And we love it.

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  6. We always go with a real tree- we love Charlie Brown trees that are perfectly imperfect. And we have so many kid-made and picture ornaments now- it's pretty fun.

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  7. Okay, I just LOVE this post. I love your wriiiiiting, woman!

    Your writing + Christmas = warm fuzzies to the nth degree times infinity OMG.

    (I was espesh enamoured with "[...] that squiggle dance you sometimes do in these types of situations," Brandon's ticks/not-ticks reassurance, "[...] flicked bug carcasses from their final resting places," and, the kicker, "[...] we old-man-in-a-mid-life-crisis-ed it and upgraded our first wife for a supermodel."

    ::plonk::

    Seriously, your writing is ALIVE and deliciously brilliant.

    Also?

    Fie on you, spider-like creatures...FIE, I SAY!!

    (Ahem...that's not very Christmassy, now is it? Okay, fiiiine. Rest in peace, you crazy little tree-infesting spiders.)

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  8. i love your ornaments! ours is a mix of reds, golds, browns, burlap, pinecones, crosses and my childhood horse ornaments :)

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  9. We collect ornaments from wherever we go! Its probably our favorite tradition and way to preserve memories

    http://freakinrayofsun.blogspot.com/2012/12/oh-christmas-tree.html

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  10. oh my gosh. spider-like creatures in a christmas tree is like my worst nightmare. it gave me the heeby-jeebies just reading this!! http://www.thismomsgonnasnap.com

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  11. i let my husband do colored lights this year. (gag) at least they are the old fashioned bulbs and not the flashing ones he reallly wanted. i'm a white light, coordinated ornament christmas snob...and i really don't like our tree very much this year...but compromise right?? right???

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  12. uhhh i would DIE if there were spiders on my tree. love all your decorations! and your bravery in the face of infestation! :-X

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  13. agh I love this idea! will definitely post about it in due time...maybe comment back and let you know since our tree has a LOT of history behind it. thanks for the inspiration!!!
    ...and best of luck with those gross bug things...

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  14. i'm all for "colour-coordinating"....
    since last year's tree i try to add natural&self-made ornaments as well {we made ornaments by cutting them out of beewax-boards {is that the right word?} with cookie-cutters} and having several felted ornaments as well...

    my kids have their own tree {a first this year} and the just decorated it with all the little finds around the house and christmas bulbs their granny got them....it's all colourfull&cute!

    oh: real trees are a must around here :)

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  15. I love this! Such great ornaments, too! I love the simplicity of your tree, and the warm sentimental ornaments are so sweet, too.

    Theresa
    http://bomamma.blogspot.com

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  16. just so you know your such a trendsetter. I totally copied you from your betty the first and put doilys on my tree. I think they are beautiful and perhaps everyone else thinks it weird (not common thing here in australia??) anyway I'm sure it will catch on.. thanks for the inspiration!!!

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  17. I'm already itching...

    My Christmas tree is made up of white lights, with red and green ornaments, a string of red pearls and several special ornaments my Mother and grand mother have sent over the last few years. I think this years tree is the best yet!!

    My tree is skinny too. I have an artificial space saver tree. We love her! Even if she is leaning...

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  18. Natalie, this story is terrifying. I haven't had a live tree since I lived at my parents', and though I miss the smell, I am relieved that my artificial tree doesn't have anything living in it! I have a bit of arachnophobia. Spiders? Ticks? Eek.

    Our tree has frosted and clear white lights. We add strings of tiny red beads, and silver tinsel. Our tree topper is a t-Rex hand puppet. Basic decor is rounded out with brush-broom animals (bunnies and birds and squirrels) and red berry/pine-cone garnishments from centerpieces from an annual holiday party we attend.

    Our actual ornaments are limited to the ones we have collected together: one for each Christmas we've shared. This year was #10. Each year we pick something to celebrate (often a big trip, but our engagement and the purchase of our house are also commemorated), and find an ornament to remind us of the event.

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  19. I would've named Betty's successor Megan...a la Don Draper

    But anyway, we have tons of homemade ornaments (that look like store bought ornaments because my brother is absurdly talented, there is nothing shabby chic about his DIYs) and WHITE lights please, no colors. We also have an artificial tree that we bought last year on December 26 with the intent of putting up in our at the time not yet purchased new home. Well we bought a 9 foot tall artificial Christmas tree. I don't know in what kind of tree-induced delusional world we were living in where we believed we'd have vaulted ceilings to accommodate that tree, but long story short we bought a house with moderate ceilings and my husband had to saw about 18 inches of pole off the tree's bottom.

    It now fits in our living room but only just, and there is no room for a star on top. I am such a star atop a tree girl. I am trying to find a suitable replacement that won't add any height, but so far no such luck, so our tree has spent the Christmas season topper-less, but with all of the wall-painting and my husband building new floors in the basement, my not-quite-yet-put-together tree goes rather well with my not-quite-yet-put-together home. Merry Christmas Holbrooks!

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  20. Depends which tree you're talking about it. We have three (all real (as opposed to artificial) - one outside our front door, one in our living room, one in our dining room). I work on a theory that you can never have enough Christmas trees. I definitely have no idea what that says about me (other than that I absolutely adore Christmas!)

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  21. my focus is mainly on how the lights look, although this year my husband may have undermined my carefully thought out aesthetic (photo here...it's lovely anyway http://hooleywithaz.wordpress.com/this-is-what-happens). i like to have some nice glass ornaments hold everything together, but i am also huge on the memento ornaments from our childhood. i like to remember the story of each one as i'm putting it on the tree. someday i want a rustic Christmas tree, with a popcorn garland and cranberries, and wooden ornaments with white lights. gorgeous.

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  22. Ahh the Christmas tree ornament is too cute! My Christmas tree is dressed up in golden and silver orbs, some with glitter and sparkle, and of course a metallic bow. then I thought that was too much shine for my tree and so I handmade a few ornaments with some leftover twine wrapped around foam balls. Nicely balanced now i think.

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  23. First, this: Basically, we old-man-in-a-mid-life-crisis-ed it and upgraded our first wife for a supermodel. Hilarious.
    Second, I was raised in a house where the artificial tree (always) bore red satin balls, two balls bearing my name/birthdate and brother's, red sparkly garland, a few childhood handmade things my mom had held onto and white lights ONLY. Oh and there was always the handmade angel at the top. Nothing more and nothing less.
    Now that I'm a mother with her own apartment and family, I can't come up with my own Christmas tree theory. I want a real tree but have yet to get one though they are being sold on every darn Manhattan corner. I want to try popcorn and marshmallow garland. I think I'm directionless. Ba humbug! This weekend though I'm getting my butt in gear. Promise.

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  24. I have SEVEN Christmas trees! Seven. Crazy, I know. But to be fair, only two of them are full-size, one full of sentimental store-bought ornaments that were collected over our lifetimes and include my complete Hallmark Barbie set. You can never be too old for Barbie ornaments, because I said so. The other tree is full of homemade ornaments and will continue to collect them over the years. I highly recommend multiple trees if you have the space. Then I have three miniature trees, one with vintage ornaments, and two for my kids with ornaments I DIY-ed for them. LASTLY, There's a set of skinny trees outside my front door that I like to think add a certain rustic-chic (did I just make that up?) to my suburban home.

    Gosh, I love Christmas.

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  25. Your Christmas photos are what I dream mine will one day be! Instead it's a bit like this mess I just blogged about - http://zippytoes.blogspot.com/2012/12/christmas-is-another-word-for-awkward.html
    and no tree for us other than the DIY one I attempted along with other mostly pathetic decorations - http://zippytoes.blogspot.com/2012/12/wevents.html

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  26. i am a white light no tinsel kind of gal--what does that say about me? that i am a perfectionist? or no fun--take your pick :)

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  27. I'm all about the all white lights, tons of glitter, silver and gold everywhere. I like to be as little color as possible, which may seem boring at first, but really- it's so pretty. And sparkly. And probably because I live in northern california and have never in my life experienced a "white christmas" that maybe I compensate for that with my white tree? hm. this psychoanalyzing business is good.

    xo

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  28. I realized this year that in the six years I've been married and setting up our Christmas tree, I've never really had any real ornaments.

    Hmm. The first year we made a hundred gingerbread cookie snowflakes, the second we used all mini package toppers from Williams-Sonoma (you know those tiny copper pinapples?), the third, fourth, and fifth are kind of fuzzy, but I think we used some stuffed elephants that I cut from a garland and a couple felted birds I made with my mom, and this year, well, I put most of that together, minus the gingerbread, added some glitter balls and snowflakes handed down to me from a friend (really, I'm that person who has no ornaments so a friend dumps her old ones on me:) and that was our tree.

    And then I participated in a handmade ornament swap (best idea ever) and all of the sudden have 9 awesome ornaments made by friends and somehow I went from zero to Christmas tree decorating hero in about two weeks! Plus, my three year old busted out some painted pinecones and beaded candy cane at pre-school, so we're pretty much set for life now.

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  29. please go visit this place. It looks amazing. Oh how I wish I lived in New York City!

    http://www.nycgo.com/articles/christmas-lights-and-cannoli-tour

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  30. The gingerbread man ornament is my absolute FAVORITE!! So perfect ;)
    xo TJ

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  31. Love the ornaments. I'm not even going to attempt an analysis because I have no tree at all and I'm afraid of the analysis I could potentially get back...I'm not the grinch, I promise. The pathetic truth is that I can't afford a tree this year, so I am going to simply invite myself over to other people's houses to enjoy theirs. It works. Kinda.

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  32. I am not sure anymore because this is about to be the first year I've been involved in our tree since 2008. But back in the day it was a SERIOUS decision about whether we were doing tinsel garlands or beaded garlands. Usually the tinsel won, because sparkles. Our ornaments are collected through the years with various themes going on (ugly-made-by-a-preschooler, oldies from various grandparent-types, ornaments-as-gifts, etc). Also until very recently we had old-school BIG lights but as they are a fire hazard we are reluctant to use them anymore. Shame.

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  33. Decorating the tree is almost a sacred tradition for me and I look forward to it every year. This was our first year going to a tree farm and it was pretty fabulous, and our toddler got to "use" a saw. Only problem is our tree is much wider than usual so we had to rearrange furniture. It always goes into a plastic ikea trash can filled with pea gravel, and that into a giant decorative flower pot, and I just dump water straight into the gravel.

    Always white lights. Always red/green wood bead garland. Always our vintage star which I plucked from a dumpster when the old lady died next door to my childhood home. We are very heavily into robots ornaments (for the husband) and gnome ornaments (for me). I bought 11 more ornaments this year - good thing that tree was fatter than usual. Always the collection of ornaments given one per year from my grandfather, and continued now my mother.

    The toddler has his own tiny 4 ft. tree in his room with soft ornaments. This is his touching tree and he loves it. He's only knocked it over once.

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  34. i wish I had the beautiful tree in the magazines - everything all colour coordinated and pretty ---- but my tree is all about the memories. Every year I buy each kid an ornament (and one for my hubby too). I try to make it meaningful to the year (for example this year we went on a cruise so everyone is getting little Santa's scuba diving, or boating, or swimming). Or make it meaningful to what each person is in to: e.g. soccer ball for my little soccer player son, cupcake for my cupcake crazy stepdaughter. I usually make the one for my husband related to some trip we have taken. I write their names on it and the year. Then year after year, I pull them out and make each kid a "pile" of their ornaments that they put up year after year - excited about reminiscing about the past years' ornaments too! Then I give them their new ornament on christmas Eve to add to the tree. When they all grow up and move out of the house, I plan to hand them their ornaments to take for their first Christmas tree! (That's why you need to buy for your hubby too or you'll have a naked tree when empty nest sets in). The kids LOVE it - and count on it - and get a kick over what i have found especially for them! They range from 7-14 now so the piles of ornaments are getting bigger and I no longer need any "filler" ones - they are all special.

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  35. i wish I had the beautiful tree in the magazines - everything all colour coordinated and pretty ---- but my tree is all about the memories. Every year I buy each kid an ornament (and one for my hubby too). I try to make it meaningful to the year (for example this year we went on a cruise so everyone is getting little Santa's scuba diving, or boating, or swimming). Or make it meaningful to what each person is in to: e.g. soccer ball for my little soccer player son, cupcake for my cupcake crazy stepdaughter. I usually make the one for my husband related to some trip we have taken. I write their names on it and the year. Then year after year, I pull them out and make each kid a "pile" of their ornaments that they put up year after year - excited about reminiscing about the past years' ornaments too! Then I give them their new ornament on christmas Eve to add to the tree. When they all grow up and move out of the house, I plan to hand them their ornaments to take for their first Christmas tree! (That's why you need to buy for your hubby too or you'll have a naked tree when empty nest sets in). The kids LOVE it - and count on it - and get a kick over what i have found especially for them! They range from 7-14 now so the piles of ornaments are getting bigger and I no longer need any "filler" ones - they are all special.

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  36. well shoot, my tree looks different every single year! this year it is lime green and 4 foot tall and shiney...she (priscilla is her name) is covered in bright pastel balls (lavendar, pink, and blue) which are matte, glittery, disco ballish, and stripes...I love it because it reminds me of a candy store or a Dr. Seuss book. I wonder what it says about me that I change Christmas every year.

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  37. Oh I LOVE this post!! I tend to get stressed out every Christmas as I shop the ornament section at target and dream of all the different tree possibilities. We started off with woodland creatures and homemade-esque ornaments (they were the cheaper option). I dream about one day having a fancy tree with beautiful ornaments in addition to a more homey tree....two trees?!?!? It just seems like a good idea if your living space accommodates :) Thanks for sharing your tree decoration breakdown. I love the marshmallow garland! So cute!!

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