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December 6, 2011

Did yesterday's posting of my childhood's pitiful aluminum Christmas tree stir sympathy?  Laughter?  Commiseration?  Memories of the little tree's stark, cold metal were probably why I provided my own children with live Christmas trees every holiday. 

Indulge me as I take this opportunity to relay to you a rare personal Christmas story.  It was December, 1996, in the early days of the Martha Stewart Experience B.P. (Before Prison).  Inspired by Martha's shows that featured LIVE trees and homemade ornaments, I was determined to provide my family with a Little House on the Prairie Christmas experience (except with lots of presents, of course.)

Against Bob's objections, the annual trip to the Christmas Tree Farm resulted in a live, balled fir, resplendent in it's 6 ft. tall naturalness. 

"See," I pointed out, "you won't have to work to stabilize the stand this year.  We'll just put the tree in a bucket."  

Note:  A balled tree mean the roots of the live tree have been wrapped in a LARGE burlap sack which requires a LARGE bucket.

After numerous trips to Lowe's, Tractor Supply, and Home Depot, the appropriate, industrial-sized bucket was found, the tree was hauled into the house on a dolly, and my imagination went to work.  Not content to drape it with impersonal, store-bought ornaments, I decided to cover the tree in white babies breath, burlap ribbon, and homemade gingerbread men! 

That entire day the children and I made dough, cut little men, punched holes in the center of their heads, and baked away.  After the cookies cooled and were hard, we ran twine through the holes and hung the little guys all over the tree.  It really was inspiring.

Not content to have a 'natural' Christmas tree, I further decided that I would make the wrapping paper for all of our gifts.  Following Martha's directions, I cut a star stamp out of a raw potato, made 'ink' from food coloring, and unrolled sheets of plain, brown paper.  Note:  Stamping paper with a raw, wet potato is messy work. 

After the paper was dry I wrapped the gifts and secured them with, yes, twine.  Stepping back to view my creations, I was exhausted but happy in the knowledge that my children would actually experience a NATURAL Christmas.

The next morning I awoke with a renewed, warm feeling - that night's Open House for family and friends would be a sterling success where I would be showered with praise for my originality and hard work to bring the true Spirit of Christmas to fruition.

As I walked into the kitchen to make a pot of coffee, I heard groaning.  Alarmed, I rushed into the living room to find George, our Cairn terrier, writhing on the floor in agony.  He was surrounded by numerous areas on the carpet where he had been sick.

Spinning around, I gasped in shock.  The bottom 3 feet of the Christmas tree were hung with just the heads of dismembered gingerbread men - George had eaten the bodies of all the delicious ornaments that he could reach.  The tree was a guillotine disaster and my dog was, literally, sick as a dog.

Following an emergency trip to the vet's, the carpet was cleaned, gingerbread heads were removed, and our traditional ornaments were brought down from the attic.  I never looked at that dog the same way ever again.

The Moral of this Story:  Christmas is about the One who loves you and the ones you love - not the tree, not the ornaments, and not Martha Stewart.

Now, are you ready to view some really inspiring trees? 

Christmas decorating schemes 
are like snowflakes - they're all unique and beautiful

Whether you're in a cold, northern climate or basking at the beach, Christmas is a time to express your joy, love, and faith during the most special of holidays.

Images:  1. & 2. Charlotta Ward; 3. Rie Elise Larsen Photography; 4. Desde My Ventana; 5. Sunny In Bed; 6. The Good Life

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