At this time of year, I love seeing pictures of my friends’ Christmas trees on social media. From a Charlie Brown skimpy real tree to a full-on disco artificial tree, I don’t think I’ve ever met a Christmas tree I didn’t like. What always makes me smile is how uniquely each family decorates or approaches the entire tree event. Some are displayed proudly in the front window like leg lamps while others are baby- and cat-proofed. Tinsel, popcorn, fake snow, ribbon, angels, stars, monochromatic ornament bulbs, Hobby Lobby embellishments, colorful lights, white lights — everyone has a style.
Ours is tacky.
At least, that’s how it would objectively look to those friends of mine who have the gift of home decor. I don’t. Some pictures of fancier trees look like they’re straight out of a Lands’ End catalog! I could work until the King Cakes show up in stores and never pull off something that impressive.
These gorgeous trees have swirly, glittery sticks poking out from them and ribbons draped seemingly-effortlessly down the outside. They have a “theme.” This year may be giant gold ornaments with smaller, silver garnishing in something that would inspire a Burl Ives song. I have aspirations to one day decorate a tree that opulently. Perhaps in retirement when I’m empty-nesting.
In the meantime, though, I have tacky ornaments. I have paper faces of Santa with missing cotton balls. I have crumbling pieces of plaster with hand-prints in the shape of reindeer heads. I have cheap bulbs with fingerprint snowmen and “My First Christmas” frames whose child is unidentifiable. I have a Christmas dinosaur with a missing leg and a sticker snowflake that loosely reminds a kid of Queen Elsa. I have the ugliest little hand-painted “stained-glass” nativity scenes as large as my head that we try to squeeze on year after year.
I have more broken ornaments than ones that are intact. They’re mismatched and missing parts of the set. Some go back to my early childhood. For reasons unknown, I have a tiny book ornament that I remember getting from a second cousin when I was four years old. I’ve never opened it, but–without fail–it goes on the tree year after year.
My tree is tacky. And full of charm and character and memories and nostalgia and warmth and involvement. The kids have no concept of spacing. They pile green ornaments on top of other green ornaments in the same small pocket of limbs that they can actually reach. It takes everything in me not to go back and “fix” their decisions. If I’m being honest, I often do when the children are nestled all snug in their beds.
That’s my favorite, big-hearted time to sit and adoringly stare at this tree and its representation of the memories we’ve built. There’s that awful rocking horse that’s missing a leg. But it’s one of their favorites. And there’s the Mickey Mouse ornament from that trip we took to Disneyland–the only Mickey-themed ornament on the tree. One day these tacky ornaments that fall apart and get glued again every year will find their way to my children’s family Christmas trees. Or maybe I’ll keep them forever, foregoing that magazine-worthy Christmas tree when I’m empty-nesting …
… because I love my tacky Christmas tree.