It isn’t going to be filled with beautiful vignettes and awe-inspiring holiday decorations that belong in the pages of a magazine.
It isn’t one that you are likely see on a lot of other blogs, since it isn’t the type of post that most design bloggers would want to share.
But today’s post comes from my heart.
Today I want to share my cheesy plastic ornament-filled, terrible pop-culture referencing, asymmetric, overloaded, unmatched and down right UGLY Christmas tree.
"Wait?! What!?" You are probably thinking. "Why would we want to read about that? Nobody wants to see the Walmart of christmas trees when everyone else is giving us the cover of Martha Stewart Living!”
DON’T LEAVE JUST YET!! Let me explain:
Earlier this morning I was photographing my home in order to put together my “Holiday Home Tour.” You have probably seen thousands of these. Pretty much every design or DIY blogger shares one, and typically they are beautiful and make you long for egg nog and a cable knit throw while sitting in front of the fireplace watching “It’s A Wonderful Life, ” your boots strewn ever so carelessly (yet perfectly photographable) off to the side of the hearth.
The images are practically ripped from the pages of a Pottery Barn catalog. With perfect color coordinated trees, matching gift wrap and happy children with perfect ringlets who never bicker and are even thankful when the gifts they open are only socks and underwear:
Ironically, as blogs become more and more competitive for page views, it seems like more and more design bloggers are upping their Christmas games, with grander and more beautiful decor every year, which makes for some wonderful browsing.
HOWEVER, it has gotten to the point that I have actually seen some bloggers comment that they don’t think their decor is “good enough” to share and some are even apologetic that they home isn’t ‘magazine worthy.’ APOLOGETIC!!
What the wha?! That is their home! Nobody should be ashamed of their home.. and certainly nobody should apologize if it isn’t up to par for the pages of a magazine! Since 95% of people's homess couldn't pass that test.
What is "magazine worthy" anyways? Does that mean it is matchy-matchy? Like something you would see in a store? Fit for a generic space like a shopping mall or at city hall? Something Martha Stewart approved?
Does magazine worthy mean perfect?
So just for kicks, I image-searched “The Perfect Christmas Tree” and this is what Google gave me:
|via Google Image Search|
But are they perfect?
To me, there is more to the perfect tree. A perfect tree has to be more than BEAUTIFUL, it has to be MEANINGFUL.
Nothing sucks the beauty out of Christmas like the loss of focus on what the holidays are really about: THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE. And sometimes, these perfectly staged gorgeously matched, ripped from a magazine Christmas trees have lost the actual meaning of Christmas. As much as I love looking at those trees, they don’t really reflect much about the people behind them. I mean sure, there are “themes” that indicate someone’s aesthetic, but can they don’t really wear their heart on their sleeves.
And don’t get me wrong, there is NOTHING WRONG with a generic gorgeous tree. In fact I have had many (in my opinion) beautifully staged, generic, pinterest-worthy trees on this blog. But they say little about me.. They could go up on anybody's holiday home tour and you never could connect them to me.
I recently saw this comic floating around and it really speaks to this issue.
I am not sure if that is true for everyone, but it certainly is true for me. The tree I love most, is always the tackiest one, but sadly.. that tree is the also least ‘bloggable.’
SO WHAT IS A BLOGGER TO DO?
With all these thoughts swirling in my head, I set out to photograph my home this morning. I know I am not alone in my belief that you can’t compare your behind the scenes with someone else’s highlight reel, but it is often easy to forget that there is nothing wrong with being authentic, even if that means showing off your ugly tree.
And I will admit, the thought did cross my mind to ’stage' my tree to better match the rest of my home tour decor.. or at least shoot it from only far enough away that you couldn’t actually make out the type of ornaments that were all over it. But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
My tree actually means a LOT to me. My entire life (no exaggeration) is mapped out on the ornaments that hang from it’s branches, and every year when I put it up and take it down I am unpacking and repacking those memories one by one. They are too important to dismiss.
So today I present to you, in all it’s ticky-tacky glory.. my ugly beautiful Christmas tree for 2015.
To understand the strange assortment of ornaments (as well as the whacky placement) you need to understand the every year the kids get to pick out one ornament that is their absolute favorite. And obviously, since my kids are 10, 6 and 2 their favorite things are not exactly what you would see in a Restoration Hardware catalog. In fact, here are this year’s choices:
This year they also helped me decorate (which consisted of me unpacking them and them hanging them on the tree.. which means only the bottom 2/3 of the tree saw any ornaments.) I did a little rearranging after they went to bed, but it was such a hot mess it was beyond salvation.
Of course, the kids aren’t completely to blame for this ornament collection. My husband and I also collect ornaments as momentos of our favorite moments. (This one is the 1999 Rose Bowl, which we attended as newlyweds. The flowerpot one is one I made myself.. back in 2000.)
We have a tradition of labeling every ornament with the year that we got it (and if it was a gift, we label who it came from.) It is fun to see the evolution of your life, and to be instantly drawn back to that time when you hold those ornaments in your hand.
When my mom and my husband’s mom gave us our childhood ornaments (right after we got married and had our first tree), they also added all the dates to them:
In a bittersweet twist of fate, my mother in law passed away suddenly right after my youngest daughter was born. So now, our oldest ornament is also our most cherished one:
Of course, this means that the ornaments have no rhyme or reason in style, size, theme or color. They are pretty much as random as you could possibly get. And when you throw in all the homemade ones, it becomes quite chaotic.
Some years I will take all the homemade ones and give my kids their own tree.. or I will skip over some of the tackiest ones, but honestly? I like to look at them. Some mornings I will sit on the sofa, sip my coffee and just take them all in. So many memories.
So if that makes me a bad blogger with an ugly tree in her home tour, so be it. To compensate I have started using multiple trees in my house, and only tend to feature the "pretty" ones. But those trees will never hold my heart, that space is reserved completely for my ugly tree.
ADDED AFTER PUBLICATION:
As a footnote to this post, tonight I was going to process the photographs I took earlier today to actually write up my home tour post, when I walked into the living room to get my camera off the tripod. There on the floor was this collection of photo ornaments. 10 for my 10 year old, 6 for my 6 year old and 2 for the baby.
Earlier this week my mom sent them “a surprise” they were supposed to open before christmas. She had found a photo of them from every year and created a photo ornament for each one. Tonight they finally opened the box.. and apparently they spread them out on the floor. As I gazed over them, a time capsule of the last 10 years, I realized that I was right on target when it came to my ugly tree. Life goes by so fast, and memories are fleeting.. grab on to them when you can. When my kids grow up and get trees of their own, these ornaments won’t grace the branches of my tree anymore.
And when that time comes I will miss them.