Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! The photo is of my Christmas tree (before I got all the presents wrapped), surrounded by some of my collection of old world Santas.
The tree has a bit of a story. When I was growing up, we never had a real tree. My mother had a terrible fear of it catching fire, so we always had artificial trees. The first Christmas that I had my own place, I got a real tree and I loved it. There was something very special about picking out the tree and bringing it home and putting it up. I also discovered that I had a mild allergy to pine; by the time I was done decorating, my hands were covered in itchy red bumps. They cleared up as soon as I washed thoroughly with soap and water, so I wasn’t too concerned.
As the years passed, the allergy got worse. A few years ago, after I put the last ornaments on the tree, I found that I was covered in an itchy rash from my hands clear up to my shoulders. I also noticed, with some concern, that I was short of breath and couldn’t seem to get enough air! A rash is one thing, trouble breathing is something else entirely. That was the last year I had a real tree.
Still, I couldn’t quite go back to the fake trees of my childhood, even though they look a lot better now than when I was a kid. I set out to find the fakest fake tree that was ever sold in Fakeville, and I think I succeeded. I would have loved one of those retro aluminum jobs with the rotating stand and disco lights, but those things run anywhere from a few hundred bucks to over $1,000! Instead, I found this beautiful white tree and fell in love with it. My ornaments are mostly cut glass and the tree topper is a crystal Moravian star that I found at a yard sale; they show up beautifully against the white background. The only real problem was something that I never considered until the tree was standing in the living room: all of my Christmas lights had green cords! I had to get inventive that first year, but I’ve got white lights with white cords and a really beautiful tree. Even if it is fake.
Happy holidays, whether you are celebrating Christmas or Solstice, Saturnalia or Chanukah. I hope you are with the people you love best on this special night.