Tree beauty is a bit subjective

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 11, 2002

With the Christmas season underway, many people are adding the finishing touches to their holiday decorations.

Decorating for Christmas was a pretty big deal when I was growing up. First, I would help my mom put the nativity scene up. I made sure the figurines were placed in a logical spot, each looking at the baby in the manger.

The next weekend, we would put up the tree (always real) and then the decorations (lights first). My brothers and I would alternate who put the lighted star on top.

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The star rotation has been off since I went off to college. The only reason I had the honor of putting the star on top this year was because I happened to be home the weekend my family decorated the tree.

The ornaments on my family's tree aren't coordinated according to color and the latest style. Each ornament belongs to someone, symbolizes a milestone or is homemade.

When I was home this weekend my mom decided to buy me a small Christmas tree of my own. I took some ornaments from home, ones I made in elementary school or those that my family no longer puts on the tree.

I thought about how my tree would look compared to others. It certainly can't compare to the seven-foot tree standing in my parents' sun room.

I thought some friends of mine were doing much better than I had when I saw their tree this weekend.

They had cut their own tree and decorated it with white lights and balls in University of St. Thomas colors (purple and silver). It looked pretty nice until I got closer. Needles were everywhere.

Another friend asked if it had been watered lately. It hadn't. He also asked if they cut when they got home. They said they cut it at the tree farm.

That was Dec. 8. Chances are it won't make it until through the week, let alone Christmas.

My tree is fake, so I won't have to worry about watering it.

I set it up Monday night after I got home.

The branches were kind of squished, so I tried to adjust them and finally just turned it so the nicest-looking part faced the living room.

Keeping with tradition I put the lights on first. The cord was too short to make it to the nearest outlet.

No problem, I thought, I'll just use an extension cord.

Turns out the two extension cords I own already are being used. At my parent's house, we always had enough extension cords for the tree, outdoor lights and other displays.

So my tree hasn't been lit yet.

I put an angel ornament on top instead of a star. The rest of the ornaments look like they have seen their share of Christmas trees.

One is a Christmas light bulb decorated to look like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which I made in sixth grade. Part of the ribbon used to hang it with has come unglued, so Rudolph looks a little lopsided.

My mom also gave me a small nativity scene for my apartment. There is no moving around the plastic figurines, which are molded to the floor of the of the "stable"

I set it under the tree.

All in all the tree is probably the on the shabbier end of Christmas decorations.

But at least I have one.

It wouldn't feel like Christmas without it.

Cari Quam can be reached at 434-2235 or by e-mail at