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What Is Your Spirit (Christmas) Tree?

I once went to see a psychic who suggested I picture myself as a tree in order to relax and get into the psychic reading “zone”. Uh-oh. I began going through every species of tree you can imagine, birch…no, catalpa…no, live oak…definitely not. I’m not sure I heard anything she said as I got stuck on trying to conjure up what type of tree I might be. I have a busy, busy, mind.

Me in front of our blue Christmas tree in 1971. Oops. Ran out of blue-tinsel-garland I guess.

Now, when it comes to Christmas trees I know exactly where I stand. What about you? Which type of Christmas tree speaks to you and brings happiness to your home? Let’s go through a couple different styles starting with my favorite.

"The 1940's Tinsel Tree"

This tree has appeared in my favorite Christmas Classics that were filmed in the 1940's and in "A Christmas Story" which was set in the 1940's but released in 1983. The latter displayed a charmingly disheveled version as seen below.

We see more dignified versions in both "The Bishop's Wife" and "It's a Wonderful Life".

Decorated by an angel, Dudley, in the 1940's classic "The Bishop's Wife".

Decorated by the family in a joyful chaos that drives poor George further into despair in "It's A Wonderful Life." Look at all that tinsel!!!

Finally, my favorite version decorated by the phony food writer Elizabeth Lane played by Barbara Stanwyck as she gazes lustfully at war hero Jefferson Jones played by Dennis Morgan. I could do a whole blog post about this movie set!

The reason it is my favorite is partly the nostalgia of it but also that it is SPARKLY, and it looks a little imperfect, even a little messy. This last point makes it easy to replicate with kids helping decorate or your own impatience with what should be fun but feels a little tedious.

What are the elements that make up a 1940's style tinsel tree? Well, tinsel in both icicle and garland form, glass balls, and big fat multi-colored lights.

My childhood Christmas Tree shared some elements of the 1940's Christmas tree, but never with "fat lights" (my dad thought they would start a fire) and the icicles only made an appearance after it had been long enough for my mom to forget how "messy" they are.

Big sissy holding me in front of the tree in 1970.

My sister and me on Christmas morning in 1981.

"The Natural"

This tree has natural and man made objects and is less "glitzy" than the 1940's Tinsel Tree. It appeals to those with a rustic country style and also a modern minimalist. It can be colorful, but usually it leans toward more neutral tones.

Dried citrus, cranberry garland and popcorn make this tree nearly edible! I can smell the tied cinnamon sticks from here. Mmmm.

Paper garlands are another hallmark of this style of tree. Even the most modern minimalist could get behind this tree, but they couldn't hide, obviously. Personally, if it doesn't have lights it's not for me, but it is pretty.

Felt and pom-poms make for a sweet and cheery combination.

I remember being made aware of this style Christmas tree when I was a young mom in the late 1990's. I believe it was Martha Stewart "Living" magazine and/or morning show that introduced me. I love these trees and might even consider having one if I ever have a house that is big enough for more than one tree.

If you're a Natural, you are going to want to secure some popcorn, pom-pom garland, and maybe some dried citrus and, to spice it up, some colorful paper garland, felt ornaments, and finally some blown glass ornaments to add sparkle.

Notice I made this type of tree colorful. I can't help myself! Preparing for that 1920's 2-story Tudor in my future. A girl can dream.

The Professional

These are the trees that decorator's proudly display on their Instagram pages and in their reels and stories. You know the ones. They are perfect. Color coordinated, themed, and tidy. All the things my own Christmas tree will never be, but that's okay with me. I do enjoy marveling at my colleague's perfectionism. Come on. They MUST hire out the Christmas decorating! Right?!

Let's start with one of my favorites, Tobi Fairley. She is the queen of bold color so of course I'm a huge fan. Here are a sampling of her "Professionals".

Next up, your favorite, because you've told me so ad nauseum, Studio McGee. They really have a knack at creating an elevated "Natural" tree. These trees are very pretty with a perfect balance of natural and glam.

And I saved the best for last. The queen of all things home and garden, the one, the only, Martha Stewart. I'm a forever fan. She got me through those early years as a happy homemaker and wife who had no idea what she was doing. She taught me how to cook, garden and decorate. She really can do no wrong in my eyes. Here are some beautiful trees done only the way she could do...perfectly.

Perhaps I'll get her tree decorator's number...not for me, but for you. Look at those trees! They are sophisticated works of art. Oh, Martha!

I'll leave you with a shot of my humble tree that borrows a little from the styles above. Assembled from ornaments collected in adulthood and several from my childhood, it is colorful and sparkly and perfectly imperfect.

Painting done in high school by my youngest son, Parker, and quilted skirt by my mom, Franca.

For me it wouldn't be the holidays without the glow of Christmas tree lights. So if you haven't done so already, choose a style and go decorate! And if you feel so moved, leave a picture in the comments. Merry Christmas!

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