This is a reprint from my Patch column originally published in December 2010.
We finally replaced our artificial Christmas tree of 17 years. I
bought our old one the year after my husband and I got married. It was a
nice, full, bushy thing that I found for 50 percent off after the
It has since appeared in many annual Christmas photos with our two teenagers and 90-pounds-of-fun dog who must be wrestled into position before the picture's taken.
This year, my husband decided he'd had enough of assembling our old
tree, and untangling streams of multi-colored lights before dangling
them around the Christmas tree.
"Get one of those pre-lit trees," he said just before Thanksgiving.
It's hard to replace a tree that has been in the family for so long,
especially one that has witnessed so much life. Toddlers ripping open
presents. Grade-schoolers ripping open presents. Teenagers ripping open
But I've never had the privilege of hauling a ginormous box filled
with color coded tree branches up the basement stairs, assembling the
dumb thing, then cursing strands of carefully hung burned out lights.
That was my husband's job.
Even so, I was attached to this old tree. It was bushy! Full! Did I
mention it had been featured in our annual Christmas photo? A lot?
Knowing little about pre-lit trees, I turned to my good friend,
Google, for a bit of research. After discovering that the very first
artificial trees were made of the same material as a toilet scrubber, I
scanned the trees on Home Depot's website.
Did you know Martha Stewart has her very own line of Christmas
trees? I clicked on images for sparkling, snowy and just-cut-natural
fir trees filled with pine cones and LED lights, then headed to Home Depot for an up-close and personal look.
After circling the Christmas tree displays and hogging the attention
of the nearest sales associate for half an hour, I settled on a number
from Martha. It sparkled. It looked real. It had pine cones.
I took it home.
With a minimum of swearing, my husband snapped the 3-part tree in
place. There it was. Frosty. Piney. Pre-lit. But it wasn't as bushy or
lush-looking as our old one. Maybe the ornaments would help.
I got to work, adorning the tree with the same old ornaments we use
every year—ones the kids made when they were younger, a few from my
single days, a batch of Waterford ornaments from my mother-in-law. And
even though we had enough old ornaments to fill a Tea Party convention
(not all of which I used), I was disappointed. The tree didn't seem as
festive as our original. Could I see this tree in our Christmas cards
for the next 17 years?
I was starting to think Martha was overrated.
Maybe it just needed an identity of its own. A little shopping
therapy never hurt anyone. Including a tree. So off I went, to the
greatest store ever invented: Target.
Twenty new ornaments, one fancy bed skirt, four strands of garland,
and two boxes of candy canes later, I think the tree looks alright. In
fact, I like it.
I just hope it doesn't tip over.
What's your Christmas tree story?