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    Family Traditions: The Little Christmas Tree

    November 28, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    We buy a real tree, and it is small. It is usually between three and four feet. Our first two Christmasses, we had a very small fake tree that I had used in my dorm room in college. It was convenient to have a fake tree since we had to travel a lot in the month of December and weren’t home to water.

    Once we had children, I desired a real tree. I loved the light scent of pine wafting through the house. I loved the complete absence of plastic. I loved that we could because no on in our family has allergies, and that is a rarity that deserves to be celebrated. But real trees can be costly, especially considering that it is a recurrent cost.

    Buying a small tree costs about 20% of what it costs to buy a big one, but it also has other financial benefits. We don’t own a lot of ornaments. Our little tree is perfectly full, but a big tree would be quite bare. I am the type that is quite content with a full little tree, but a big, bare tree would make me itch to buy ornaments. And yet I like the idea of collecting ornaments over time so that they have sentimental value to our family.

    Our little tree stands proudly atop a card table covered with a beautiful tree skirt that I bought on a super-clearance sale after Christmas one year. I think it cost around ten dollars, and yet it is a beautiful, richly embroidered skirt, definitely worth every dollar.

    When one has toddlers around, one understands the benefit of a tree that is up on a table. Toddlers may be able to grasp an ornament or two while standing on the ground, but they need a chair or stool to splash in the water or topple the tree, which gives the parent more time to catch them in the act compared to a tree at ground level. I also find that they pay less attention to it because it isn’t at eye level, beckoning to them throughout the day.

    I look forward to a day when we buy a big, full tree and have enough ornaments to fill it. But for now, a little tree works just fine for us.

    I think this is just another area of my life where I have been learning that a little can still mean a lot, and that the extravagances I see in the homes of others don’t have to be in mine in order to be content.


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  • Reply Brandy November 29, 2006 at 5:05 pm

    We already bought our tree for this year, but I must say the living tree idea is very tempting. I’m going to mention it to Si and see what he thinks. I kind of like a tree that grows with us!

  • Reply Kimbrah November 29, 2006 at 6:12 am


    I don’t know how much you guys paid for your real tree, but we found the most adorable “Charlie Brown” Christmas trees at Target for between $12.99-14.99. They are living trees, so you don’t have to keep buying it year after year. We have basically the same tradition as you guys where we buy each of the kids their own ornament each year, plus the ornament we bought for each other before we had kids and my first ornament (wouldn’t you know it’s a Peanuts ornament?). I figure the living tree, if properly cared for, can grow with our family and eventually when we get our own home, we can plant it and continue to watch it grow.

    Just a cool idea that fell into our laps this year. Karlos is totally into Peanuts books right now, so it seemed appropriate. Up until now we have used a fake tree that I had from the college dorm days.

  • Reply kristie November 28, 2006 at 9:55 pm

    Yeah, I can relate. I still like running to my parents’ tree from my old room! =)

  • Reply Brandy November 28, 2006 at 7:50 pm

    I hoped you would remember the little dorm tree, Kris! 🙂 I totally agree that a big, real tree (or even a fake one, for that matter) that needs love and care is totally impractical when one has to consider finals and then lots of travel. In fact, one of the reasons I am enjoying this change to no travel over the holidays is that we actually get to develop some of these traditions and enjoy a real tree at home. I liked all the travel before kids, but now I like having my little ones wake up in their own beds and run to our own tree…I guess I just like our family memories to be here in our own rooms.

  • Reply kristie November 28, 2006 at 7:11 pm

    Ahhh, I remember the little dorm tree…. =) We have an even smaller tree, and it is fake. I think it’s a foot tall. I don’t really miss the big tree too much, especially since we always go away for the actual holiday and there are plenty of “big trees” there. We don’t have children to consider, but Christmas always seems to come at a very busy time for anyone involved in school. So, we have the small fake tree in order to protect time and the unity of our marriage. =)Afterall, both are more important than an indoor tree.

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