It's interesting to see how some people take holiday traditions so seriously. I remember Christmas the year I got married. As newlyweds we had to negotiate and compromise some of our traditions. It was interesting to see who had the dominant Christmas gene and ended up getting their way with the following questions. Does Santa wrap presents and put them under the tree or just arrange them on the couch cushions? Can we open a present on Christmas Eve? and the biggest one of all, should we have a fake or real tree?
I have participated in the fake tree vs. real tree debate for many years and with many people. I have learned that most people take less offense if you make fun of their mother than they do by expressing your tree preferences. I also call this debate the symmetrical beautiful looking safe tree vs. the sappy shedding needles fire hazard Dr. Seuss looking tree. I guess you can tell my preference. Even though I am an artificial tree enthusiast I will be the first to admit there is something unnatural about dusting and assembling a tree but I think they look much nicer as long as you don't get the really cheap ones. I know that a real tree also has a nice smell to it but the smell alone is not worth the trade off of your Christmas tree looking like a cactus or a bush.
Some people are so distracted by the holiday spirit that they don't realize that there is a right way to decorate a tree. The first step is to string the lights. Please don't use giant outdoor lights on an indoor tree! Do not wrap the light strands tightly in circles around the tree like you are trying to tie someone up. The lights are the foundation of a well decorated tree. I'm pretty sure I have OCD when it comes to tree lights. In the past I have taken them off and started over and rearranged them several times until it "felt" just right.
Ornament placement is an important part of a good looking tree but many people mess it up. Hang larger ornaments down low and smaller ones up higher up. Any ugly ones that you feel obligated to use can go around the back where nobody can see them. Symmetry and spacing are crucial so I don't let the kids do too much of the decorating and when I do I will usually rearrange them when they are not looking. By the time I'm done decorating our tree it looks great, but my kids are a little bit scared of me. It's ironic that someone with such enthusiasm for holiday decorating can give off the same vibes as Ebenezer Scrooge and micromanage the fun out of it.
Once the tree is decorated I turn off the other room lights and just sit down and just watch it while listening to Christmas music. This is a beautiful time. I enjoy it while I can because it is guaranteed that one of the sets of lights will burn out a week or two before Christmas. I cherish the time I spend reverently basking in the light of this sacred and beautiful symbol because after December 25th it is just a depressing, presentless, pain in the butt mess to clean up and put away.
I realize that in the past I have been too judgemental of other's trees and decorations. This year I think my heart finally grew a few sizes bigger as I watched my kids attempt to help me decorate our tree. I have been a Christmas tree elitist all my life and it has taken me a long time to chill out and understand that people who string popcorn or hang tinsel from their trees deserve to have a good Christmas too no matter how bad their trees might look. Just because my tree looks better than yours doesn't mean you can't enjoy yours. Merry Christmas.