to tree or not to tree?

Our first Christmas, we'd only been living together (and married) for two months, and we spent a Canadian Tire gift card on a tree and a few decorations. Our rental had gloriously high ceilings so we got a really big tree. After three years in that home, we moved to our much more snug condo where we've been ever since. A big tree just didn't work in this space, and neither did glass ornaments with all the babies we suddenly had. I found myself stressed by grabby hands and crawling bodies and around the same time I was beginning to lean towards a more minimalist aesthetic.

So, for three whole years, we didn't have a tree. I never felt like we were missing out on the holidays at all. I bought fresh boughs of garland and put them in jars all around our house and we still had a few things like a thrifted Nativity scene and stockings. Since we don't do Santa (more on that later) and we have so little free space, I kind of loved not having a tree. It was a statement of sorts, without trying to be. Christmas wasn't about the gifts or the materialism, so why have the tree? Sure you can read spirituality into any tradition, but it felt awfully worldly to me, for people who claim that Jesus coming into the world is the most fortuitous event in history.

I'm not sure what changed exactly, but I softened on the idea of abandoning all Christmas decorations, including the tree, last year. Brad had mentioned that he'd like something small as our kids were getting older, and we spent a long time discussing how we could keep their eyes on Christ and still be festive.  My main concern was that the tree and the gifts are one in the same, and I have strong feelings about Christmas being all about the gifts. So the first rule for the would-be tree was that there would be no gifts under it until, and only on Christmas morning. Until then, it would be a fun festive decoration to create lovely winter ambiance, but the kids wouldn't be shaking packages under it or trying to guess what they were getting for weeks before.

The gifts are hidden away in my closet and they never see them, nor do they give lists or send letters to Santa (because they know he's not real), but then on Christmas morning, as we're celebrating God's amazing gift to us in sending Jesus, we give each other presents. Just like any birthday party, there are gifts and a cake (a new tradition we also started last year - making Jesus a birthday cake!).

In all, I like having a tree now, and it's been fun to start collecting some simple, meaningful decorations each year. I love the light it gives off, and the general ambiance. It's only about 3 ft, and very sparse (it kind of reminds me of the Charlie Brown tree, but it's from IKEA). It's simple, modest, bright, and cozy. It's perfect for us, and kind of combines all of our cautions and sentiments about Christmas.

So we're officially in the TREE camp. Now, real or faux? For me, that's a no brainer - FAUX! I already have a hard enough time keeping my floors clean, I don't need a hundred pine needles falling every hour. And I don't like how real trees require maintenance and then they're on a bit of a time line as far as how long you can keep them. Dragging a real tree through my house, then having to toss it before it dies, and the extra work of cleaning the needles is not worth the smell of fresh pine, I'm sorry! It also saves money (our tree was a one time cost of $35), and you can keep it up as long as you like! The only down side is storing the tree, but thankfully ours isn't a big one.  And there's always cedar and pine essential oils to keep things smelling legit ;)


  1. We have a slim artificial tree in our 800 sq ft house, but I've always been tempted to ditch it and buy this fabric from IKEA to hang on a wall instead: http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/60289852/

    My husband wouldn't go for it, but I think it solves the small space Christmas tree problem!

    1. I love that fabric one! Saw it the other day :) You could always do a potted plant or branches in water? Or too low-key? I get it, the holidays are a festive time and minimalist thinking is often at odds with the season!