Monday, December 15, 2008

Name That Christmas Theme!

The other night I went to a girlfriend's house to do some scrappin. No, I don't mean that she and I got into a catfight. I mean I had some little clippy-clippy, sticky-sticky scrapbook making fun. I got about 10 pages done, which is pretty good for me. However, the pages are kinda non-creative and just... very... utilitarian. But, they're DONE!

Anyway, one gal was there named.... Lauren. Lauren has two children with really interesting names. She is one of those moms who wants EVERYTHING in her life to be interesting. She doesn't do anything the easy way. For example: instead of scrabooking, she had brought over real cranberries to string together for her Christmas tree. Which she did indeed put onto a string. She told us she was either going to put it on her tree or her mantel.

These type of moms make me quite manic. I think they make me manic because they force me to see myself as a mom who does less, who focuses on "easy" instead of "creative". UGH the last thing I need is something that requires twice as much money or twice as much effort.

The next thing she began to talk about was her Christmas tree. (again, here comes an example of how she does things that are "interesting"). She decided not to purchase ornaments this year. Instead, she bought those decorative balls that can be placed into a bowl on a table, and she purchased eye-screws, screwed them into the balls, and used ornament hooks to put them on the tree.

At this point, I was screaming in my head, "WHY DIDN'T YOU JUST BUY SOME STUPID ORNAMENTS, LADY???" But of course I was politely smiling on the outside.

THEN, she asked the gal sitting next to her, "So, how do you put up your tree? Do you have a theme for it every year?"

I was calmly staring, but thinking to myself, "Is she serious? Really?"

Themed trees, in case you haven't seen one, are "perfect" trees: everything is symmetrical. All the tree branches are in place. Maybe everything on the tree is white: ornaments, lights, and tinsel. Maybe the entire tree uses only red and gold glass ball ornaments, red bows, and gold garland. Of course, the tree skirt lays perfectly, ironed out without a crease. Not a single lightbulb is burned out and they have a gentle twinkle effect. Uusally these trees are placed in picture windows so they may shine in all their glory for passers-by to see.

My tree is the same every year. That's what I like about it! Pulling out the ornament with a picture of me from 4th grade. Pulling out the ornaments that my kids get every year from their grandparents. Putting the cross on top of the tree (we really wanted this instead of an angel or a star, but it has proven to be a bit too heavy for a tree topper).

Warning: if you are a "themed tree person" I am about to offend you, so maybe go click somewhere else like

Those themed trees always seem so fakey fakey to me. Like, what it looks like is more important that what it means. I like that my kids can actually touch our tree. I like that they helped me put it up. I like that they see themselves, and the history of our family in that tree. In our house, Baby Sally has already taken off about half of the ornaments and pulled off the garland twice. I keep reassembling the tree, but everything ends up in different spots. Who cares?!

I think themed Christmas trees are very pretty. Maybe it's a matter of matching your Christmas deco with your personal style. Me? I've got more pictures of our kids up around our house than I do pictures of art. Me? I am more likely to wrap a present with newspaper than I am to have a perfectly-sized gift bag with coordinating tissue paper and a bow. Me? In our family portraits, someone always is screaming, someone else is in need of a haircut, and I usually have a bra strap showing or a run in my panty hose. So, a "not-so-perfect" Christmas tree matches my style. But my family? We understand the important things. That appearances are only superficial. That real substance is underneath. That what you say and what you do are reflections of who you are inside. I want my kids to grow up with the memory of helping put up the Christmas tree and saying, "I remember making that ornament in Kindergarten!" or "This one is my favorite! I want to pick a branch to hang it on!" I think it would be so sad if our kids looked at Christmas as just another time to get presents. All the preparations for Christmas - one being the decorating, which they particiapate fully in - make the holiday so much more special.

Now, I think themed trees are super classy. Actually, I kinda admire them when I see them in people's homes. I admire them because they represent something about me that I know I will never be: neat and tidy, (close to) perfect, stylish, organized. And, I think, that's okay. I know what I like, even though it's not for me. I see other people who personify characteristics that I struggle with, but I am okay with who I am. I am trying to get better at some stuff, but recognizing what's really special about me is fun too.


MeadowLark said...

I love themed trees. My theme is: 20-years-of-accumulated-STUFF. Quite nice, if I do say so myself! ;)

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

Absolutely not! I don't see character on them. Themed trees are so nouveau riche heehee ;)
(Tell a person that with a themed tree and they get so annoyed lol--NO I do not say that ;) )
Whoa--I am snarky today!

Every Day Goddess said...

I found you over at Classy Chaos. I love this post! We do a family ornament exchange so our tree is a collection of mismatched, but my kids love to remember the year they got which ornament and who made what as we put up our tree.

La Pixie said...

Im a themed tree girl. I used to hate when my mom put up those made-at-school ornaments.

the thing is, we have about 8 HUGE boxes of ornaments, so I use what we have to create a theme. some years, its all Precious Moments. some years, golden harps and instruments with lots of tartan. LOVELY. my mom and I always scoured the stores during after Christmas sales. I feel like our tree was always really personal. so... I dunno if Im agreeing or disagreeing with you!! =)

Eudea-Mamia said...

Stringing REAL cranberries?!

That's why God created Garden Ridge Pottery.


And 10 pages? That's fantastic. You go!!

And themed trees, ah, not so much. But to each his/her own.


Dorsey said...

My tree is a mish mash of everything. I do have several pink/gold/white ornaments. And for several years I bought a new bell to hang on the tree every year, but that's as close to a theme as I get. Yeah, they're pretty, but man..that's a LOT of upkeep! Especially when they change it every year!!! Good grief, I don't even buy lawn ornaments (which upsets my daughter every yr).

Heather said...

Growing up, Mom always insisted on one "themed" tree and one "anything goes" tree each year when I was growing up. The themed tree was real, put up in the living room and included hand-tied, country plaid bows and yes, strings of cranberries and popcorn that we sat as a family and made every dang year. The "anything goes" tree was fake, put up in the family room and was where all the ornaments made at school, etc lived.

Guess which one has always been my personal favorite? :D

Heck, I can't get my bra and undies to match on any given day (and if they do, it is generally through sheer coincidence) so how on earth could I have a themed, matched tree?

Now, I do have a few themes all jumbled together on our tree.... there are a ton of Pooh and Friends ornaments, for example. Also many snowmen ornaments, because I love both of those categories of decoration. Lots of red and gold, glass ball ornaments (y'know, the cheapy ones from WalMart) in tiny and medium sizes. (Kiddo wants to get some of the HUGE ones that are seriously as big as her head, but Hubby voted her down - too much of a mess to pick up if the cat decides to hit one outta the park.) But, there certainly is no overarching "theme" to my tree beyond "happy family potpourri" :) and that's fine with me!

I do admire those themed trees, though. I've seen pictures on some folks' blogs that are stunning. I am always a wee bit jealous of people with such amazingly decorated homes, which are also immaculate (they seem to be in pictures at least) but if I lived in one like that, I'd have to get rid of at least the cat and the kid, and possibly the husband too, to maintain that level of perfection.

Besides, my cat likes to decorate the tree skirt with hairballs, and they don't iron well! :D

Jen said...

yeah mom's like that make me crazy too. I can tell you right now life is too short and I will NEVER be a mom like that or have a themed Christmas tree. Shoot, our tree is still laying in the garage wait every so patiently for some one to stand it up.

Weaselmomma said...

You sound like my kind of Mom. Those trees are nice in store windows or homes without kids. Our too is a family tree with many very special school made ornaments. I wouldn't want it any other way.

The Nice One said...

Well, because I am a people pleaser...

I have two themed trees. One my my themed trees matches your blog, so you should be happy. It's my Hero Tree. 11 feet of red white and blue. I also have my disney theme tree. And then, I have the family, aka hodge podge of a mess tree.

Jennifer said...

I must admit that I have a themed tree, red and white with a "candy" theme. But I wouldn't really say that it looks like it came from a magazine. AND my daughter did help me decorate it. AND the baby has pulled the garland and oranments off (at least five times a day). Just because you have a "theme" doesn't mean that you live with perfection. I live with anything but. Maybe that is why I like my themed tree, it gives me a little bit (very small amount) of control over something. But that's just me.

Anglophile Football Fanatic said...

My SIL is that person. Her wrapping paper even matches the tree - which makes no sense when she isn't home but at our house for unwrapping. It's too cookie cutter for me.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE themed trees. I think it just depends on the stage you are at in your life. Some years we love to get out all the old ornaments, be nostalgic as we put the tree up. Other years we get excited and build our own beautifully themed christmas tree. Either way it is personal and fun, because did it together, and in the end it's all about creating memories, right?

Carrie Thompson said...

this is my take... now I do not have a themed tree (well not a store pretty themed tree!) my theme is all the same sort of ornamtents but we buy them from all over- I just buy them based on a general theme. But I have garland with the same theme and a tree skirt with the same theme and stockings and decor etc. My kids love our tree... no they dont have ornaments made at school, but they put up the tree with me and exlaim over the ornments.."Oh we bought them ..."

One year I actually did string cranberries, but we were studying praire times and we also made gingerbread house that was a stable and we visited an old homestead that was decorated...

So I am on the fence... but I think I agree when a person has a perfect tree that some company came in and did for her and she has no mental or physical attachment to it that isnt so good. But a mom who happens to like beauty and themes and go to the effort to string cranberries or physically make beautiful ornaments or change her theme every year or matches her wrapping paper to the theme===I dont think she is wrong. I think she is happy, just like you are happy with your school ornaments and not so matchey stuff? Why does one way or the other have to be right or wrong?

I guess the point I am possilby badly getting a cross is that I think all that matters is the person heart?

Don Mills Diva said...

The "theme" of my tree is the love and chaos of my family life - homemade ornaments, silly ornaments, sentimental ornaments...none of them match and some are actually quite ugly but I love them just the same!

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

Yeah, I think themed trees are just not my taste, but if a person can do them, I'm okay with that, I guess. Like I said, they are pretty, but just not my style, and I think the reason I tend to have an aversion to them, is because they are almost too perfect: like they represent the perfect family and perfectly decorated household and perfectly behaved children... I think when people try to project perfection, it comes across as fake. Perfection is okay for a museum or a display home. But in a home with children? Perfection is just out of reach, in my opinion.

BUT to each his own, right??

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

I think the themed trees or coordinated trees are b-e-a-utiful, but expensive. When my kids are gone, that is what I will have, but for now, my tree is Hallmark ornaments - new ones each year for each kid - a few glass balls, a nutcracker balerina girl you gave me in high school when you took me to Nutcracker for a Christmas gift.


Nan said...

I just can't imagine telling my kids "Sorry honey, your gingerbread man-ninja turtle decoration you just made doesn't go with my theme right now"!

Ryan Scott said...

I always had a muddled mess tree growing up, so when I got married I made a point of being very particular about my "themed" tree. Then we had a child... I traded in all the "pretty" ornaments for the real deal - ones that don't shatter with an innocent bounce on the floor and don't dent walls when thrown across the room! Come to think of it, maybe tossing some unused toys onto the tree (which is crammed in a corner so I only have to spread half the branches) would make for an easy theme? Enjoyed your post!

Bridgett said...

Oh, she would make me nuts.

There was a thing I read once about how your Christmas tree betrays your socioeconomic class. Basically, I'm solidly middle (unthemed...)