By Mary Lynn Bruny

A rather stylish acquaintance said to me one holiday season, “I really don’t like Christmas trees that are decorated all hodgepodge. You know, ones that have all kinds of junk all over them.”

“Really?” I replied. “I love any Christmas tree, especially the ones that look like Christmas threw up on itself.”

Our family’s tree is decorated with ornaments that anyone has made out of any substance at any point in their life mixed with miscellaneous store-bought ones collected over the years, some of them nice, but also some really weird ones. I’m guessing my acquaintance would not like our tree.

Like a home’s interior décor, every Christmas tree has its own unique vibe. I think this makes them all fun to see. But I love a Christmas trees in general, no doubt due to my late father.

My dad loved Christmas trees and went all in. His enthusiastic decorating motto was: “If some is good, much, much, much more is way better, especially if it’s shiny.” A bit to my mother’s chagrin (who has subtler taste), trees of my youth were jam-packed with large, multi-colored lights (the big ones you screwed in) and loads of huge glittered ornaments.

Growing up, I thought our Christmas trees were fantastic, objects of extreme beauty. My father was obviously a visual genius, a master of his craft.

When I was really young my dad also used (or should I say abused) tinsel. If you are over 50 perhaps you remember tinsel – in the little white boxes? He drowned our trees in the stuff. You could barely make out the lights glowing beneath the blanket of reflective strips. The ornaments were simply MIA. It was a divine overall effect, kind of like a huge glowing foliage nightlight.

I remember my poor mother muttering under her breath when – once again – the tinsel got jammed up in the vacuum cleaner. Remnants of it would show up months later behind couch cushions or clinging to the drapes. But the worst was when it occasionally came out of our pets’ behinds. I think that’s what put the final kibosh on the stuff being used.

One year when I was a young adult my mom revolted and decided they would have a Victorian Christmas tree. It was all completely coordinated with pinks and purples with lace stuff and matched their decor. It was perfect – some in our family members thought it was too perfect. It was like a person who has had too much Botox: sure, it was pretty but it just didn’t look quite right. My father was not a huge fan.

I imagine a truce was formed after tough negotiations. Eventually the pastel tree got relegated to the living room and the “real” tree was set up in the family room, sans tinsel by then. Christmas time peace ensued.

Luckily my husband and I have had only minor Christmas tree negotiations. He has agreed to allow any and all homemade children’s ornaments (jumbled composites of globs of glue, glitter, googly eyes and vivid imaginations). I have agreed to allow some greenery to actually show, meaning I limit my ornament enthusiasm. (Sorry, dad.)

I think our Christmas tree is imperfectly perfect. It’s a collection of memories reflected in the decorations we have made and gathered over the years. But that’s the lovely thing about Christmas trees: everybody thinks theirs – full of their own memories – is the most beautiful. Obviously, we’re all visual geniuses (or blinded by nostalgia).

By Mary Lynn Bruny. Mary Lynn writes about local real estate and home-related topics. Contact her at [email protected]. To read previous The Lighter Side articles, go to