As my husband and I shop for a Christmas tree, we're being visited by "ghosts" of trees past:
The silver-colored metallic tree my family had one year when I was a kid (very futuristic-looking, we thought). The bubble lights that had to be positioned carefully so they wouldn't hang upside down. Our first tree as a married couple living abroad, covered with all the hand-blown glass ornaments we could afford (not many). A tiny Norfolk Island pine that sat on a tabletop and a fir more than 8 feet tall.
I'm a bit surprised that I can recall so many of our trees. I never thought of them as the focal points of our celebration. Yet I find that we managed to take a snapshot of just about every one.
Those pictures remind us of discussions about what the well-dressed tree should wear. Should the lights blink or not? (I'm in favor of blinking.) Icicles or no? (Yes, says my spouse, even though he knows we'll be picking stray stands from the carpet for the next 12 months.) Do we continue adding an ornament each year, although our sons (for whom the tradition was started) are now on their own? And how do we replace the 23 ornaments that each took with him?
Occasionally we've succumbed to the ease of an artificial tree, but usually not for long. I love the evergreen aroma that fills the house when the tree is fresh. And I enjoy the trips to the tree lot to pick just the right specimen. Does it lean to the right? Can we hide that bare spot near the bottom?
But when it comes to my family's Christmas tree, one thing has always held true. As we finish decorating it, and it has its yearly portrait taken, everyone always sighs and says, "It's the best tree ever." And it is.