Woman stands outside in the cold to make sure her Christmas tree looks 'good enough' seen through the living room window

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

I loved putting up the family Christmas tree when I was growing up, but my mother hated it. I didn't understand why she didn't rejoice the day we brought our tree home for the holiday season back then, but I do now.

When you're the one in charge of procuring, decorating, watering, and then disposing of the tree, it's a lot of work. It's quite a chore. At least everyone wants to help when it's time to decorate the tree, even if they sometimes get in the way. Taking it down is another matter entirely.

When I was a kid, we always put our Christmas tree in the corner of the living room. The corner was flanked by two windows. That meant you could see our decorated and lit tree from inside the living room, through the window on the front patio, and on the stairs and walkway leading to the front door.

My mother always stood outside in the cold, examining the tree through the windows to ensure it looked perfect from every angle. It was tradition.

I'm always amazed at people who decorate only one side of their tree, leaving the side facing the wall bare. Sure, I understand they don't mount their tree against a pair of windows, so they have the luxury of leaving half of it undecorated. Nonetheless, it just seems strange to me.

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of me and my mother squeezing between the tree and the wall to add garlands, tinsel, ornaments, and lights. Then I'd stand in the window and get in the way while she tried to inspect our handiwork from the porch.

My mother always wanted to take the tree down the day after Christmas, but I'd beg to leave it up until at least New Year's Day. Often I'd come home from school in early January to find the tree missing and a big empty space where it had stood for the last month.

It always made me sad to see the tree gone. The room looked so drab and empty without a Christmas tree in the corner, but it never seemed to take long for Christmas to roll around again. In fact, here it comes again.

These days, we don't put up a tree or any other decorations for Christmas. Seeing other houses lit up with multi-colored lights and Christmas trees in the window always makes me wistful of my childhood.

What do you think? Do you decorate the entire circumference of the tree or just the parts you can see from the living room? Comments are welcome.

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