Monday morning musings: the Christmas tree question

What should I do about a Christmas tree? That's the question that has been plaguing my mind for the past couple of weeks to the point that I can't seem to think of anything else these days.

While there are lots of trees of all shapes and sizes in Paris, the problem is that we don't have anything to put on the tree after we bring it home. By definition, Christmas trees are supposed to be adorned with twinkling lights, ornaments and mementos of Christmas past. But that's the problem. Since I decreed that no one could speak about our move to Paris until after New Year's last year, we didn't talk about where we would spend the holidays this year until after our Christmas decorations were already stored in the basement of our house in the United States. All of the ornaments that Stephane and I bought for our first Christmas together, the construction paper angels and stars that our children made in school and the rubber Santa that always reduces Sara and Philippe to tears as they laughingly twist his body into contortions before placing him in a rather risque position in the middle of the tree are on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Even though I'm feeling a bit stressed, I keep telling myself to think outside the box. After all, some of our most memorable trees have been born out of desperation, like the ones in Bali where I strung some white lights on a fake tree and told Sara and Philippe that they could decorate it every day with delicate temple flowers. It was beautiful.

So, here's what I've come up with so far:

We could have an environmentally friendly Christmas tree if I collect old metro tickets and turn them into origami ornaments like those made by artist Kim Quach. While this photo doesn't do justice to Quach's creations, I hope that you get the idea. If not, please click on the above link and see what else she does with metro tickets. It's amazing.

Or, I could nix the Christmas tree idea and decorate an Eiffel Tower instead.

One thing that I won't be able to do is to tell the kids that we can just enjoy looking at everyone else's Christmas trees and not have one of our own. I tried that last year after Stephane and I, the Heathrow refugees, arrived in the USA early in the morning on December 24 after being stranded in London for a week because of the snow. We still had to have a tree!


  1. Great post! We just put up our first England tree (posted about it at ) -- but only half the ornaments since when we left Oz, I sorted out half for my son in Washington DC. It gets awfully complicated, doesn't it?

    Love your photo of the trees lining the street in Paris and look forward to what you decide to do!


  2. Perhaps you can do a simple tree?

    I find the trees here to be a bit pricey but a mini table top one shouldn't hurt too bad and Ikea had some really cute red and white ornaments. Tie a few red bows and strand of white lights and voila, insta-ho-ho-ho! The ornaments at ikea are so inexpensive that you can nix them next year when your real decorations arrive.

    : )

  3. Carolyn, "It gets awfully complicated" -- how right you are!

    I loved seeing how you decorated your cello shaped tree and your post about the significance of Christmas ornaments collected over the years is exactly why I'm having such a hard time figuring out what to do. I don't want to buy a lot of new decorations - I want our old, meaningful ones.

    Mlle Ella, Thanks! I probably will end up making a trip to Ikea...but not on a weekend! The idea has been growing on me ever since I saw all of the goodies that you got there. I'm also going to see if I can find some cheap Paris stuff (little Eiffel Towers, etc) to make this a Paris themed Christmas tree. Who knows, maybe it will become a new holiday tradition.

  4. Yes, you need a new tradition. Maybe it won't replace the sentimental trees of the past, but it will be something unique for this time and place.

    If you go with a tree, save buying the tree and decorating it until your children arrive, even if it's Christmas Eve. Even if it's a very simple decoration of lights and cranberry garlands, since you did it with your family it will be most special. And presents go under only after it's lit.

    Or maybe you want to purchase the tree and only light it with real candles on Christmas Eve, I'm sure you can find those still in Europe.

    The is a photo going around on Facebook of a tall cone of books strung with lights as a substitute for a tree. It's pretty funny and many people could certainly do that.

    My favorite Christmas tree was the one I would put up in the side yard in Maryland, before moving to Chicago. It would be from 12-15 ft tall and be strong with large old fashioned, colored bulbs. It required two neighbors to assist me in wiring it securely to the wooden pallet and about four hours of wrapping it with the bulbs. We'd then host a neighborhood lighting party and I'd serve cookies and a warm drink. Always a highlight of my year.

    Now that you've brought it up, we'll all be curious to see the solution.

  5. Joseph, "we'll all be curious to see the solution" -- me, too! Although, we're definitely thinking along the same lines - simple, low-key and making sure that the emphasis is on how thankful we are to be together.

    The book tree sounds great! I'll have to see if I can find a picture of it online.

    The large, old fashioned, colored bulbs that you used on your Christmas tree in MD are my favorite for outdoor decorations. They remind me of when my family would squeeze into the car to drive around looking at Christmas lights when I was a kid. Your neighbors must have missed you after you moved.

    Since Stephane, Sara and Philippe all know you by name, they'll be pleased to know that "Joseph" said that we should wait until after the kids arrive to decorate the tree.

    Thanks for all of your suggestions!

  6. Bonjour MK
    In one of our transition year we got a 30 cm tall artificial tree wrapped 1 set of mini lights and a few ornaments. We called it our Charlie Brown tree. It became our second tree when we finally got a house built and had room for a full size tree. The Charlie Brown tree did not make it out this year; I guess we are not going anywhere for a while (-:

  7. Salut Conrad! Staying put and being in a house with room for a full size tree sounds like a real luxury. When I saw that one of the florists was selling massive trees, much larger than the ones in the photo, I came to a dead halt because I was surprised that anyone has such a big apartment in Paris. And Charlie Brown trees - they're the best.