Each year, KTW's newsroom staff answer questions ahead of the holidays.
This week's question: How do you decorate your tree? Real or fake? Do you have any special or notable ornaments?
Every year I tell my husband I want a real tree, but every year we put up our fake one. I thought I’d never be that person, but we received it for free from family years ago when we were broke and first moved in together. I long for a real tree. In addition to the wonderful smell, I have fond childhood memories of “Christmas tree hunting” — bundling up, playing in the snow, drinking hot chocolate and, inevitably, chopping down a tree that looks way smaller in the woods than in a living room. It’s a tradition I would like to resurrect when I have kids of my own. Until then, I will dismantle my fake tree in January and put it away for next year.
When it comes to Christmas, it’s a real tree no matter what. Once the perfect tree with the least number of bald spots has been selected, it’s placed in its stand and given a quick trim off the top to fit under the ceiling. The lights go on first followed by the unknotted strands of Christmas beads that have been in the garage for 11 months. Next up is placing a plethora of Christmas balls on the tree along with a few special ornaments, like the Santa Claus driving a golf cart I love so much. With barely an inch of tree left, it’s time to add the all-important star at the top.
Growing up in the Foulds’ household, it wasn’t Christmas until the tree was knocked over in the midst of a fight involving any two or more of mom, dad, six siblings and a cat — with help from a tag-team partner named Smirnoff or Labatt. We figured the battered tree’s canopy that spread its protective awning over assorted presents and withstood prodigious party pugilism deserved a crown befitting its stature. And thus was born The Drink That Stole Christmas, a breathtaking green and red martini glass, complete with an olive, hand-cut from hardy construction paper. This month, it stands proudly atop the eldest brother’s tree in Abbotsford, about three decades’ worth of Scotch tape acting as its life-support system.
I don’t have a tree in my apartment. What I do have is a Ukrainian tenant/roommate. We don’t often speak. It’s fantastic. He does his dishes. He pays rent on time. He is polite and does not throw parties. We take turns washing floors and cleaning bathrooms. We are cordial, but it’s a business relationship. What he doesn’t do is pay one cent of the hydro bill. If he thinks for one second I’m interested in forking up hard-earned cake to spark Christmas spirit (and waste energy), he’s out to lunch. My last roommate, a German fellow, threw a Christmas party for all of his European schoolmates. The oven and dishwasher use (he fired up about five nine-hour cycles) was off the charts. He pre-gamed the holiday bash by taking a 78-minute shower, running hot water aimlessly, testing thermometer limits, plugging in strobe lights and blasting Munich’s chart-topping techno hits. The money I paid for the hydro bill could have powered Berlin for a month. Kiev will be dark in December. On a side note, I’ll be looking to replace the Ukrainian in May. Apply within!
We don’t have many rules or traditions in my house when it comes to decorating the tree. But I was born in late November and my son early in December, and we always wait until birthdays have been appropriately celebrated before dragging out the Christmas decorations — chief among them the fake tree I got about six years ago. It has lights built in and looks real enough when covered in ornaments that I couldn’t imagine getting a real one at this point. As for ornaments, our tree is a welcoming place where pre-school creations from years past hang comfortably next to shiny glass (plastic) balls. And the collection grows each year thanks to my mom gifting special ornaments annually.
My old man has always sold Christmas trees for Rotary, so growing up we usually got our pick of the litter brought home early on. The smell alone makes a real tree worth it to me. But as an adult who is usually on the go somewhere else for Christmas, I’m content as long it’s got lights (multi-coloured) and a few familiar ornaments — like the one featuring yours truly as a bald little baby.
I’m a fake tree kind of guy, and I especially like the ones that are pre-lit, and I especially, especially like the ones with the fibre-optic lights that swirl through the colours in that totally hypnotic way. My daughter and I are working on building up our stock of ornaments, so there isn’t anything too notable yet, but we do have a Darth Vader and a BB-8 from Star Wars that are pretty cool.
With allergies an issue in my household, fake trees have become a necessity. And now that we’re a two-cat family, the fake tree is definitely the better choice. Our Siberians would waste no time turning it into their own climbing tower. Our tree ornaments have a distinctive child-like quality to most of them. Thirty-six years of school teaching have provided enough baubles gifted from my wife’s students to adorn more than one Christmas tree. Adding my daughter’s crafty creations into the mix, it’s quite a sight.